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16 September 2020
A JAIL sentence for assaulting police officers must be the norm, not the exception, Sussex Police Federation has said.
Chairman Daren Egan was responding to the announcement that the Government has doubled the maximum penalty for assaulting emergency service workers.
People convicted of assaulting police officers, nurses or other emergency workers will now face a maximum jail term of two years.
The change follows a Government consultation carried out over the summer.
Daren said: “Over the past year 1,033 Sussex police officers were assaulted – this equates to almost three officers every day of the week and a 16% rise on the previous year.
“Some of the more serious injuries sustained by these brave officers include broken bones, dislocations, fractures, concussions – as well as being spat at with the threat of Covid infection.
“Worryingly, over the past few days this trend appears to be continuing. In Eastbourne one of my colleagues was stabbed with a knife in an unprovoked attack, whilst another officer from West Sussex was viciously set upon by a group of assailants who knocked him to the ground and beat him in a sustained cowardly attack.
“Both officers were admitted to hospital with serious injuries requiring urgent medical attention and both are now currently recovering at home with their families.
“The public need to know about our brave men and women who choose to be police officers in Sussex and put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect us. They deserve to get as much protection as possible – and that includes a strong deterrent in the courts.
“My hope is that in the future violent criminals will know that if you assault a police officer or emergency worker while they are carrying out their duty, a custodial sentence will be the norm – not the exception it is today.”
In 2018, the (Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into force and set a maximum prison sentence of 12 months for anyone convicted of assaulting emergency workers. That followed the #ProtectTheProtectors campaign by the PFEW.
PFEW Chair John Apter added: “The Police Federation of England and Wales has been relentless in campaigning for an increase in maximum jail sentences for those who attack emergency workers, so we welcome this decision to double sentences.
“There must be a meaningful deterrent for those who attack emergency workers. This news has come after an incredible amount of hard work and lobbying by us.
“Being assaulted – whether you are a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic – is completely unacceptable. The sentences should always be a deterrent and reflect the seriousness they deserve.
“The Assaults on Emergency Workers Act 2018 was intended to protect police officers, act as a deterrent, and punish those who have no regard for the rule of law. We would now urge Magistrates and Judges to step up to the plate and dish out these maximum sentences of two years.
“The fact is attacks on blue light workers should never be considered ‘just part of the job.’ Longer sentences can therefore act as a strong deterrent for those who think that it is acceptable to assault police officers or other emergency service workers.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “Our police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers are our frontline heroes who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, yet some despicable individuals still think it’s acceptable to attack, cough or spit at these courageous public servants.
“This new law sends a clear and simple message to these vile thugs – you will not get away with such appalling behaviour and you will be subject to the force of the law.”
See the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/sep/15/maximum-jail-term-attacking-emergency-workers-doubled