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GMP Federation

Courts must impose tougher sentences if Government are to double jail time for assaults on emergency service workers, says Fed Chair

13 July 2020

Plans to double the maximum jail term for criminals who assault police officers and other emergency workers to two years are being considered by the Government.

Just two years ago, a previous law change doubled the maximum term from six months to 12 in England and Wales.

Ministers have launched a consultation on the issue.

Stu Berry, Chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: “The intention to double the maximum sentencing for assaults on emergency workers will undoubtedly receive support from our members. However, those endeavours will be reduced to a paper exercise if the courts do not impose those tougher sentences. A deterrent is not the mere possibility of two years in prison. It is two years in prison.

“1,093 officers in GMP were assaulted last year. That’s 21 every week. Three every single day.

“Police officers face an increased risk of assault every time they go to work. If these individuals who assault our colleagues continue to receive minimal penalties for their vile actions they will also assault the very fabric of our society - and the values of law and order we hold dear.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said doubling the jail time to two years would send a "clear and simple message" that "vile thugs" would not get away with such "appalling behaviour".

"Our police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers go above and beyond every single day - running towards danger to protect us all," she said.

"They are our frontline heroes who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, and yet some despicable individuals still think it's acceptable to attack, cough or spit at these courageous public servants."

John Apter, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “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. 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.”

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