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17 September 2018
Assaults Bill is significant win for ‘Protect the Protectors’ campaign
The Police Federation of England and Wales welcomes the news today that the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill has been granted Royal Assent.
The Bill makes it an aggravating factor to assault or sexually assault a police officer or any other member of the emergency services, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. While we would like to see the maximum sentence raised further, we are pleased that the Bill sends a clear signal that assaults against blue light responders will not be tolerated.
John Apter, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “This has come after an incredible amount of hard work and lobbying by us. Being assaulted – whether you are a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic – must never be seen as part of the job and the sentences should be harsher.
“Whilst we didn’t get everything that we wanted in this Bill, it is a start and a significant improvement on what we had. We welcome it but our journey to ‘protect the protectors’ hasn’t finished – we will continue to lobby to ensure that when our members and other emergency services are assaulted, those responsible are given harsher sentences than they have in the past.
“I would like to extend our sincere thanks to MPs Chris Bryant, Holly Lynch and others from all sides of the political divides, as well as the House of Lords who have supported this bill. We will now look to the courts to use their new powers to the fullest and provide the deterrent and protection that police and emergency workers deserve.”
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.
John continued, “Steps have been taken to improve the quality of the data, however there is still work to be done to ensure that all incidents are accurately recorded so a true picture can be obtained. This responsibly also falls to the individual chief constables to make sure that all officers have the confidence – and support – to report every incident.
“Attacks on blue light workers should never be considered ‘just part of the job’ and I hope this new law will act as a deterrent for those who think that it is acceptable to assault police officers or other emergency service workers and appropriately punish those who do”, he concluded.
Watch video response from PFEW Chair John Apter following the Bill announcement:
Watch our 'Protect the Protectors' video which shows why this Bill is so important: