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24 June 2020
Surrey Police Federation “does not understand” why people would attack police officers who are trying to protect the public.
Chair Mel Warnes was speaking after new figures were released showing assaults on emergency workers rose by 24% in the four weeks to 7 June.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has attributed this to a rise in Covid-related attacks as well as public disorder at mass protests.
Mel said: “In Surrey, officers have been subjected to some horrific attacks in recent months, the majority of which have not been Covid-19 related.
“I do not understand why people think it is acceptable to assault police and other emergency workers who are doing an already difficult job for the safety of the public.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she is launching a consultation to double the sentences for offenders who assault emergency workers from one to two years, to “make these thugs think twice”.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into force less than two years ago after a concerted campaign by the Police Federation and MPs.
It doubled the previous maximum jail sentence for assaulting emergency workers from six to 12 months. Now the Government has indicated it will extend the maximum sentence again to two years.
Mel added: “It is, of course, nice to have the backing of the Home Secretary in relation to the sentencing of offenders who assault police officers, but we are in the hands of the judiciary, who don’t always see the gravity of the offence.”
“It is not just the physical injury that affects the officer, but their family and colleagues are also affected. They need to recover mentally, and in the cases of airborne or blood-borne viruses, the waiting an officer has to endure puts an increased pressure on them.
“This is why legislation needs to be looked at with regards to making it compulsory for these offenders to undertake testing to prove if they have a virus.”
The Home Secretary added: “The senseless violence we have seen levelled at brave police officers in recent weeks is incredibly alarming… I have always been clear that anyone who assaults the people who run towards danger to keep the rest of us safe should expect to face the full force of the law.”