14 July 2020
A Government-led consultation into doubling the maximum jail sentences for those who assault police and other emergency service personnel is an opportunity to ensure blue light workers feel supported by the criminal justice system, says the national Federation chair.
John Apter was commenting as the justice secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday launched a consultation into the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which could lead to the maximum sentences being doubled to two years.
“The Police Federation has been relentless in pushing for an increase in maximum jail sentences for those who attack emergency workers. However, any further increases in sentencing could be meaningless without the full support of the courts,” said John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation.
“This should include consistency of sentencing, which is not the case at this time. That is why the Police Federation has been working closely alongside the Sentencing Council to reform sentencing guidelines, bring these up to date and make them fit for purpose.
“Assaulting a police officer is completely unacceptable and there must be a suitable deterrent. I accept there will always be times where an offender does not receive a custodial sentence. However, this must be the exception and not the norm.”
Kirsty Bunn, secretary of Derbyshire Police Federation, has also welcomed the review of the act.
“Despite the existing provisions of the act, which was borne out of the Police Federation’s Protect the Protectors campaign on officer assaults, we have still seen an incredible number of attacks on our members and other emergency service workers,” she said.
“What has made this even worse is that during the pandemic we have heard so many reports of officers who have been spat at or coughed over by offenders claiming to have coronavirus. Attacks such as these are just despicable and I think it’s time tougher sentences were available to the courts so that these people can be punished and perhaps this will then be more of a deterrent to others. But, of course, we also have to see the courts actually use the full sentencing powers available to them.”