Individuals who assault or attack emergency workers face longer jail terms as a new law backed by government receives Royal Assent today.
A new offence will double the maximum sentence from 6 to 12 months in prison for assaulting an emergency worker.
This covers police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and paramedics.
The new law will also mean that judges must consider tougher sentences for a range of other offences – including GBH and sexual assault – if the victim is an emergency worker.
A Government spokesperson said.
“Ministers have acted to recognise the debt of gratitude the public feels towards our emergency services, and for the courage, commitment and dedication they show every day in carrying out their duties.”
The move has been welcomed by North Wales Police Federation, North Wales Police Branch SecretaryMark Jones, said:
“Today is an encouraging and significant day on the journey to better protect our emergency service workers.
For a long time the Police Federation has been campaigning tirelessly that there should be tougher sentences for those who choose to violently attack those whose job it is to protect others.
I continue to repeat that an attack on an emergency service worker is an attack on society as a whole and will never, ever be acceptable.
We now need to see the Courts utilising this new legislation to the maximum effect so that a strong, clear message is sent that we must ‘Protect the Protectors’ and we will be holding the Courts to account should they fail our dedicated and hard-working frontline workers.
The Police Federation will continue to put pressure on those with responsibility to ensure our members are adequately equipped, trained and in position to protect our communities but, importantly, protect themselves when under attack.”
Home Office figures show there were more than 26,000 assaults against police officers, including British Transport Police in England and Wales during 2017/18. However the Police Federation believes the true figure to be significantly higher, due to under-reporting.
The government worked closely with Chris Bryant MP, who introduced the Bill, to draft the legislation and ensure its successful passage through Parliament.
Following its Royal Assent today, the measures will come into force in November.
Chris Bryant MP, who laid the Private Members Bill, said:
“The growing tide of attacks on emergency workers – including ambulance workers, NHS staff, fire officers, prison officers and police – is a national scandal. All too often attackers get away with little more than a slap on the wrist.
I hope this new law will help put a stop to that attitude. An attack on an emergency worker is an attack on all of us and attackers should face the full force of the law.
Now it is for the prosecuting authorities and the courts to play their part in putting a stop to the violence, so that emergency workers can get on doing their job in peace.”