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Chief Rat

PFEW: Assaults Bill is significant win for 'Protect the Protectors' campaign

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Chief Rat

13 September 2018

Protect the Protectors

The Police Federation of England and Wales welcomes the news today that the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill has been granted Royal Assent.

The Bill makes it an aggravating factor to assault or sexually assault a police officer or any other member of the emergency services, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. While we would like to see the maximum sentence raised further, we are pleased that the Bill sends a clear signal that assaults against blue light responders will not be tolerated.

John Apter, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “This 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 unacceptable and the sentences should be harsher.

“Whilst we didn’t get everything that we wanted in this Bill, it is a start and a significant improvement on what we had. We welcome it but our journey to ‘protect the protectors’ hasn’t finished – we will continue to lobby to ensure that when our members and other emergency services are assaulted, those responsible are given harsher sentences than they have in the past.

“I would like to extend our sincere thanks to MPs Chris Bryant, Holly Lynch and others from all sides of the political divides, as well as the House of Lords who have supported this Bill. We will now look to the courts to use their new powers to the fullest and provide the deterrent and protection that police and emergency workers deserve.”

Home Office figures show there were more than 26,000 assaults against police officers (including British Transport Police) in England and Wales during 2017/18. However the Police Federation believes the true figure to be significantly higher, due to under-reporting.

John continued, “Steps have been taken to improve the quality of the data, however there is still work to be done to ensure that all incidents are accurately recorded so a true picture can be obtained. This responsibly also falls to the individual chief constables to make sure that all officers have the confidence – and support – to report every incident.

“Attacks on blue light workers should never be considered ‘just part of the job’ and I hope this new law will act as a strong deterrent for those who think that it is acceptable to assault police officers or other emergency service workers and appropriately punish those who do," he concluded.

Watch video response from PFEW Chair John Apter following the Bill announcement:

Watch our 'Protect the Protectors' video which shows why this Bill is so important:

View the full article

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Indiana Jones

What's the MINIMUM sentence though?

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Growley
45 minutes ago, Indiana Jones said:

What's the MINIMUM sentence though?

Exactly this. 

until there's a minimum sentence, it won't make a blind bit of difference.

Besides, it's hard enough to get one of our colleagues in offices to even charge assault police in the first place.

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Sapor62
Exactly this. 
until there's a minimum sentence, it won't make a blind bit of difference.
Besides, it's hard enough to get one of our colleagues in offices to even charge assault police in the first place.
100% agree, minimum sentencing is needed otherwise this has 0 real life meaning.

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Hyphen

I think I’m definitely in the negative camp with this one. This is just a complete waste of time and a nice way to create some sound bites. The only way this would have worked would be a minimum sentence.

The issue that the Fed and a lot of people miss is we don’t need a maximum sentence being increased that no one will ever get given anyway, we need a complete change of culture. We need to undo the damage of the last 8 years or so. The government and media have created an environment where it is almost celebrated to challenge authority, that it is some sort of civil right to resist police and to shout and scream when stopped. This breeds violence and assaults.

We need to urgently address the lack of resources which are frankly dangerous for not only cops but the public. This has numerous knock on effects, people know that cops can’t do anything any more in most situations. This leads to people pushing it further and further with officers, when they think they can get away with threats they move on to physical abuse the next time. At least at one time cops would be locking these sorts of people up when they pushed their luck.

We need a culture change on use of force and urgent retraining in respect of OST. Too many cops (some new in service) haven’t got a clue about using force, sadly down to poor training and misinformation. Too many cops stand off and fail to control a situation early on leading to some of these assaults or situations spiralling out of control, and many think it is somehow good policing not to go hands on with someone who is clearly aggressive/threatening. My biggest issue now is with how much a lot of DPs get away with at a custody desk.

This links in to the next issue, senior management. We need their backing after incidents and strong statements after investigations which clear officers. We need them to stop pandering to the lefty do gooders. I was ashamed of Cressida Dick recently for example.

Officers need decent equipment, front line cops need Taser and not the cheapest toy batons for example. We need people who write policies on the likes of Taser to actually understand what it is and what it does. 

The issue is not with increasing a maximum sentence, the real issues will take a long time to fix, a lot of money and a lot of backbone which is why I won’t hold my breath.

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ParochialYokal

Whilst all of the above needs to be acknowledged, I wonder whether there is at least something positive in the wording?

 

The offence of assault police requires that the Officer to be acting in the course of their duty (i.e. exercising the office of constable). However, the new offence requires that the ‘worker is exercising the functions of their role’.

 

I would argue that the modern day role of a Police Officer goes beyond the scope of the role of a constable. As such, I wonder whether this offence would be easier to prove? Or, at least, CPS would be more likely to charge with this offence as opposed to assault police, where they just used to pursue common assault charges in some circumstances.

 

The legislation also broadens the definition of ‘police’ from any constable to anyone whom has the power of a constable and the legislation also covers those employed to discharge a police function, like PCSOs.

 

 

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