Derbyshire Police Federation

Courts urged to use tougher sentences for officer assaults

28 May 2021

Offenders convicted of assaulting police officers and emergency services staff must face the strongest possible sentences under new guidelines, according to the chair of Derbyshire Police Federation.

Judges and magistrates in England and Wales will be given specific sentencing guidance for the first time from July.

Derbyshire Police Federation branch chair Tony Wetton welcomed the move but said the courts had to properly consider imposing the maximum sentences available on anyone who carried out an assault on officers.

Speaking as the new advice was issued by the independent Sentencing Council, he explained: “Police officers should not be expected to tolerate being assaulted as part of their job. It is totally unacceptable.

“As tougher sentences become available to the courts as a means to punish offenders and act as a strong deterrent to others, we need to see the courts using them to send out a very clear message on officer assaults.  Assaulting a police officer must be seen as the serious crime it is.  It is an assault on society and society must not tolerate it.”

The revised guidelines were issued by the Sentencing Council after the Police Federation’s Protect the Protectors campaign sparked a change in the law which doubled the maximum sentence for assaults on police officers and other emergency service workers from six to 12 months.

The Government has pledged to increase the maximum sentence from 12 months to two years for assaults on emergency workers through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently at the committee stage in Parliament.

The new advice includes factors classed as “high culpability”, such as the “intention to cause fear of serious harm, including disease transmission” in common assault cases, as well as intentional coughing or spitting in both common assault and ABH offences.

Police Federation national chair John Apter, said: “During the last few years, we have been highlighting to the Sentencing Council the dangers officers face and our serious concern about some perverse sentences, which has seen people walking from the court after some vicious attacks on our colleagues.

“It’s good to see that the Sentencing Council has taken on board our views about assaults on police, including the vile acts of spitting and weaponising Covid, and these revised guidelines are a step in the right direction. 

“What we need to see now is judges making full use of the flexibility the guidelines provide to ensure that the sentence handed down reflects the seriousness and gravity of the crime.

“We will be watching closely to ensure we see a reduction in perverse sentences which result in thugs who attack emergency workers walking free from court with little more than a slap on the wrist.”




April 2024