Overwhelming support building for Protect The Protectors
19 October 2017
Police officers who have been assaulted on duty have been telling MPs about their horrific experiences ahead of a crucial vote in Parliament tomorrow.
Rhondda MP Chris Bryant’s Private Members' Bill, which seeks to make it an aggravated offence to assault an emergency service worker, has its second reading on Friday, 20 October. Ahead of this, Mr Bryant and his fellow Labour MP, Holly Lynch (Halifax) hosted a drop-in event yesterday which attracted more than 60 MPs who confirmed their support for tougher sentences.
Conservative MP Esther McVey (Tatton) said: “It’s absolutely vital we support this and show those who serve the public that they have our backing.”
Labour MP and former firefighter, Bill Grant (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) added: “I’ve first-hand experience of people getting aggressive or throwing stones, but even if I hadn’t I would identify with this because they are serving the public 24-7 and should be treated with respect by society.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper also attended, as did Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable. He said: “I fully support the proposed tougher sentences – the last thing our NHS or police should face is violence from often drunken members of society.” However he added that the Bill’s proposed one-year tariff should be “something stronger”.
MP Chris Bryant said the tariff is difficult to argue against as it brings England and Wales into line with what already exists in Scotland. Speaking about Friday’s second reading and whether MPs will attend, he said: “It’s always difficult to tell before Friday morning as a lot of MPs want to be in their constituencies, but I am very hopeful. Ministers have been telling me privately and they seem to be saying publicly that they are going to support the Bill, and if that is the case we should have a really strong united front on Friday morning.
“I really hope that this will become law by next summer because an attack on the police or any of our emergency workers is an attack on all of us.”
Police Federation Vice-Chair Calum Macleod said: “Members of our Parliamentary Working Group were delighted to be joined by our partners from the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, GMB and the British Transport Police Federation. We are encouraged by the conversations and positivity from the numerous MPs we have spoken to and their commitment to support the Bill, which has the potential to better protect hundreds of thousands of our members and others in the emergency services.
“There needs to be legislation in place that sends a clear message - the punishment will fit the crime. Those who assault the people we all rely on, those prosecuting and the courts need to understand we are not society’s punch bags and this is not part of our role.
“We will be back in Westminster on Friday and hope to move one step closer to changing legislation to Protect The Protectors.”
A petition launched by the Police Federation on Change.org and one from campaining website 38 Degrees in support of the Bill have collated in excess of 136,000 signatures – sending a clear message to Parliament that people are behind it.