26 February 2020
Offenders jailed for assaulting emergency workers receive on average less than 12 weeks in prison according to data released by the Ministry of Justice.
The statistics cover the period from November 2018 - when the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into effect - until September 2019, and show offenders jailed for assaulting emergency workers received an average sentence of just 2.6 months. This is considerably less than the 12-month maximum sentence available and has been described as a ‘disgrace and an insult’ by the Police Federation. And although conviction rates are relatively high at 80%, more individuals are currently being fined than jailed after being prosecuted under the Act.
Following the news only 13% of criminals faced jail after assaulting an emergency worker and just 18% were handed a fine since the Act was introduced, John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, called for Magistrates to do much more to protect colleagues.
He said: “Our Protect the Protectors’ campaign successfully brought about the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which saw the maximum penalty for assaulting and emergency worker increased from six to 12 months. I also welcomed Home Secretary Priti Patel’s announcement of a review into the way the criminal justice system deals with assaults on emergency workers, with a view to doubling maximum sentences. However, this Act and the Home Secretary’s pledges will be useless until Magistrates step up to the plate and dish out the maximum sentence of one year which is already at their disposal.”
The statistics cover an 11 month period until September last year following the introduction of the Act and compare the rate of court proceedings and outcomes for assault offences in England and Wales.
The Act only covers common assault and battery offences, with more serious assaults being charged using separate legislation.
A total of 8,647 individuals were prosecuted under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018. In the same period, 3,317 were charged with Assault on a constable, while a total of 43,399 individuals faced Common Assault and Battery charges (includes non-police related assaults).