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Norfolk Police Federation

"We must see consistent sentencing if we are to deter violent offenders from attacking police officers"

14 July 2020

Norfolk Police Federation: “What we need is consistent sentencing from the courts so that those who attack my colleagues will receive a sentence behind bars.”

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.

Andy Symonds, Chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, said: “I’m pleased that the Home Secretary has launched a consultation on doubling the sentence for those who attack my colleagues as well as other emergency service workers. However what we need is consistent sentencing from the courts so that those who attack my colleagues will receive a sentence behind bars.

“We have to get to a position in which those ‘would be’ violent offenders think twice about assaulting officers as they know that in all likelihood they will be sent to prison. At the present time we don’t have this and therefore it feels to officers that it’s become a free for all in attacking them.

“We have to appropriately charge and end the ‘plea bargaining’ and CPS accepting a lesser charge for a guilty plea. I have seen the horrific attacks on my colleagues and the resultant injuries which put at risk their careers as officers. I have supported officers through the ill health retirement process because their injuries sustained from being violently attacked have meant they can no longer work as a police officer.

“These attacks cause significant physical and mental injuries which at the moment not enough cognisance of these impacts are taken into account when the offenders are sentenced.”

Andy added: “PFEW’s Protect The Protectors campaign has not ended - and every time I meet with one of the 9 Norfolk MP’s the standing agenda item is the unprecedented attacks my colleagues suffer pretty much every day. I have lost count in the amount of officers that have been spat full in the face since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These types of attacks have sky rocketed therefore the Government then in turn the CPS and Courts need to step up to the plate and support those emergency service workers by introducing new tariffs for the offence of assaulting an emergency service worker, charging and sentencing those individuals appropriately and robustly so that this epidemic of assaults on officers starts to dissipate.”

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.”