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11 March 2020
Offenders jailed for attacks on police officers are receiving average sentences of less than 12 weeks, according to newly released figures.
Jon Nott, chair of West Midlands Police Federation, says the new Ministry of Justice statistics highlight the fact that courts are not using the full sentencing powers available to them, and he argues that must change.
The figures cover the period from November 2018 when the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into effect until September last year. They show offenders jailed for assaulting emergency workers received an average sentence of 2.6 months when the maximum sentence available is 12 months.
“These figures are disappointing to say the least,” says Jon, “The Police Federation’s Protect the Protectors campaign highlighted the shocking rise in attacks on police officers and other emergency service workers and led to the introduction of the new act. We hoped the new legislation would not only lead to suitable punishments for those who seem to think it’s OK to assault officers but also act as a deterrent to others.
“However, while conviction rates are relatively high at 80 per cent, we are still seeing more people being fined under the act rather than jailed and even those who are sent to prison are receiving quite short sentences while police officers and their families are left not just with the physical effects of being assaulted but all too often a psychological impact too.
“The Crown Prosecution Service now has to step up and ensure it is charging people for the correct offence while the courts must make full use of the sentencing powers available to them. Attacks on police officers are an attack on society itself and we have to see those who commit these despicable assaults suitably punished.”
Speaking at the Federation’s centenary celebration event in November last year, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would consider doubling the 12-month maximum sentence for assaults on emergency service workers.
Jon welcomed the Home Secretary’s stance but said this would be useless if the courts remained reluctant to hand out the maximum sentences they already had available to them.
Read more in our April/May magazine which will be circulated from the end of March.