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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Courts urged to use maximum sentences for officer assaults

27 May 2021

Offenders who attack police officers should face the maximum sentence available under new guidelines, according to Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell.

Geoff has urged judges and magistrates to use the revised sentencing guidance to its full extent to ensure anyone convicted of assaulting emergency services personnel receives an appropriate sentence.

Speaking after the independent Sentencing Council published its updated advice, he said: “The Police Federation and its members welcome these new sentencing guidelines.

“Assaults on police officers are totally unacceptable but are sadly commonplace. To assault a police officer, prison officer or any other emergency services worker is to attack society itself and should never be accepted as ‘part of the job’.

“Judges and magistrates must now use the new guidelines to their full extent to make sure anyone who assaults a police officer and other emergency service worker receives the maximum tariff sentences available to them.”

The revised guidelines, which come into force in July, come as a direct result of the Police Federation’s Protect the Protectors campaign which triggered a change in law to double 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.

Responding to the publication of the guidelines, 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.”




September 2022