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Surrey Police Federation

Increasing maximum jail time for those who assault emergency service workers is sending the right message, says Federation

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.

Mel Warnes, Chair of Surrey Police Federation, said: “Assaulting an emergency worker is a serious offence and the sentence should reflect this. A further increase to sentencing for up to 2 years imprisonment is certainly sending out a positive message. Those who assault an emergency worker should expect to be sent to prison.

“No person comes to work expecting to be assaulted, least of all those who are there to help you. Assaults on police as well as other emergency service workers have been increasing and something needs to be done to deter people from doing this.

“The current legislation and sentencing obviously isn’t working. We also need the judicial system to support this increase by using the powers given to them to sentence the offenders with a punishment that fits the crime.”

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.”