Call for tougher sentences as attacks on police continue to rise
Plans to double the punishment for assaulting emergency workers will be ‘pointless’ unless courts put their full force behind sentences.
Ministers have launched a consultation on increasing the maximum penalty – just two years after a previous change in the law doubled the maximum term from six to 12 months.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers Act 2018 set a maximum of 12 months in prison for anyone guilty of assaulting a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the consultation sent a clear message that “vile thugs” would be subject to the force of the law.
In 2019, more than 11,000 people were prosecuted, with just a quarter of those found guilty receiving custodial sentences.
Last December, Suffolk Police Federation chairman Darren Harris called for a stronger deterrent after hundreds of attacks on police officers were still being recorded less than a year into the launch of the Act.
Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner also called for a serious look at increasing punishments at the time.
Mr Harris said: “We welcome any strengthening of sentencing. It’s horrific, not only for my members but all public servants, to be the victims of assault.
“The Home Office is doing its bit, and the Home Secretary has come out in support of this, but we need the courts to be on board.
“We need the justice department to adjust and factor it in to sentencing guidelines. If that doesn’t change, it’ll be pointless.
“There needs to be more weight put on the aggravating features of the offence. There’s a time and place for a reduction in sentence for showing remorse, but when it comes to assaulting emergency workers we’re beyond that now.
“Despite the media coverage and it becoming completely socially unacceptable, we’ve seen an increase in attacks on police.”
Tim Passmore: “Attacks on the dedicated women and men who put their lives on the line to keep us safe are absolutely appalling so I fully support increasing the punishment for these offences.
“I hope this consultation results in tougher sanctions for those who attack our frontline officers.
“We need to send a clear message that any assault on emergency workers will be dealt with robustly. If we are to keep our communities safe, we must protect those who protect us.”
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