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The Undertaker

Ministers back tougher sentences for attacks on emergency staff

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The Undertaker

Ambulance

Attacks on emergency workers will face tougher sentences under a new law which has been given government backing.

Labour MP Chris Bryant's private member's bill would double the maximum sentence for common assault against an emergency worker to a year.

Mr Bryant called assaults on police and paramedics "a national disgrace".

Policing minister Nick Hurd told MPs the government was "very supportive" of the principles of the bill, which is due to be debated on Friday.

Mr Hurd told the Commons that violence against emergency service workers was "intolerable".

He reassured Mr Bryant - who raised the issue at Home Office questions - that the government backed the idea, although he said the details had yet to be worked out.

The legislation will cover attacks on police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and certain healthcare workers including ambulance staff.

A government spokesman said: "We owe our brave emergency service workers a debt of gratitude for the courage, commitment and dedication they demonstrate in carrying out their duties.

"This crucial change will send a clear message that we will not tolerate attacks on them, and we will work with Chris Bryant and others to ensure those who are violent face the full force of the law."

Mr Bryant, who presented the bill in the Commons in July, said at the time: "The way our emergency workers are treated is a national disgrace.

"They are spat at, punched, attacked or even stabbed whilst they are trying to save other people's lives. We have all seen the horrific images on TV.

"But the shocking fact is that such appalling acts of violence attract no harsher penalty than an attack on an ordinary member of the public - and often no prosecution is brought."

Under the bill, judges will also consider the victim being an emergency worker as an aggravating factor in offences including common assault, actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm.

The legislation will also give the power to take blood samples, with consent, from people who have spat at or bitten emergency workers and exposed them to the risk of infection, the government said.

It also creates a new offence of failing to provide this blood sample without good cause.

Mr Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, came top in a ballot of MPs seeking to introduce a private member's bill in June.

He then asked voters across the UK and in his own constituency to choose their preferred bill from a shortlist of six.

Private members' bills are one of the few chances MPs who are not ministers get to create legislation. They stand little chance of becoming law unless the government of the day decides to back them.

Source - BBC

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Cathedral Bobby

Well done Mr Bryant, once passed a very strong sentencing guideline should be issued to magistrates and the judiciary.

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obsidian_eclipse

Do the current sentences for assaulting members of the emergency services ever reach near the full terms available?

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Cathedral Bobby
3 minutes ago, obsidian_eclipse said:

Do the current sentences for assaulting members of the emergency services ever reach near the full terms available?

I don't think so, but that's why we need stronger sentencing guidelines.

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SimonT

The secret barrister on twitter has some useful input about this law and the relative pointless goal it sets. 

The legislation is already there, assaulting a public servant is already a gravity factor. So an adjustment of sentencing guidelines would be helpful but a general cultural shift led by the government down would be better. While the government kick the emergency services, why wouldn't anyone else. 

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Hyphen

To be fair I think that hits the nail on the head. Maybe I am being cynical here but this just strikes as a bit of a sound bite to appease the Fed with their protect the protectors campaign.

Offences already exist, the issue is the pathetic sentencing and the culture of finding excuses for the offenders.

I would be far more happy with actual support for the Police and emergency services. People can assault officers, abuse officers and emergency service workers and it is seen as part of the job. An officer uses force under extremely stressful conditions and is pursued to the ends of the earth. The media and government trip over themselves to criticise cops and label them as racist. 

Let’s look at funding in general, let’s stop sending cops out there single crewed with no equipment or means to defend themselves or the public.

It is an issue on multiple fronts. Funding cuts have created more danger for cops, and the far bigger issue is we have sleepwalked in to this left leaning liberal social media society where it is celebrated to challenge absolutely everything and react inappropriately to any form of authority. I would go as far to say that this has been enabled by the media backed by the government. Just look at the mess of the stop search fiasco, discouraging arrests, not dealing with low level crime, the attitude that minor assaults during arrests are ‘part and parcel’, the attitude that being abusive and threatening towards police officers is somehow accepted and if officers so much as look at someone wrong these days the complaint culture is geared towards the complainer.

I might sound very negative here but I just think a cultural change is needed lead ultimately by the highest levels of government and senior leaders within the different forces. Maybe then things will change.

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