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Tougher penalties for violence against emergency workers welcomed

July 31, 2020
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Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping has backed Government plans to double the maximum jail sentence for assaulting an emergency worker.

The PCC wrote to Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor, the Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, welcoming proposed changes to increase the maximum jail sentence for assaults on emergency workers to up to two years, saying it "leaves people in no doubt" that such violence will not be tolerated.

The Government is currently conducting a national consultation to gauge support for the new sentence measures.

It comes two years after a previous law change which doubled the maximum term from six months to 12 in England and Wales.

Firefighters, police officers, prison officers and NHS staff are among those covered by the law.

Mr Tipping said police officers and emergency workers continued to face abuse and assault while performing their duties and cited examples during the pandemic when workers had been spat or coughed at by people claiming to have coronavirus while doing their best to protect the public.

"Such attacks are abhorrent and I am pleased that swift action has been taken to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice," the PCC wrote.

"In one of the first such cases in the country, an offender was given a 12 months custodial sentence for spitting at custody officers. The attacks were described by the Judge as deliberate and pre-meditated.

"The Government's proposal to double the maximum sentence gives courts the powers they need to deal effectively with this type of offending, with up to a year in custody and 12 months on licence for rehabilitative work. It leaves people in no doubt that assaults on emergency workers will not be tolerated and will be met with serious consequences."

Citing latest data, Mr Tipping said assault without injury on a constable had risen by 13% nationally in 2018/19 compared to the previous year while assault with injury on a constable rose by 27% over the same period.

The PCC said there were numerous examples of assaults locally, including a paramedic who needed hospital treatment and time off work when she was repeatedly kicked in the ribs in December 2018 by someone she was trying to treat. He also described an incident in which two police officers and a police dog were injured while monitoring compliance with coronavirus restrictions at Nottingham Railway Station.

"Blue light emergency workers, such as Police officers, PCSOs, firefighters and ambulance crews put themselves at risk every day to keep communities safe," said Mr Tipping.

"Dedicated NHS staff, who have worked through the height of the coronavirus pandemic, continue to face abuse and assault in the course of their duties. They deserve our support and the full protection of the law."

Chief Constable Craig Guildford added: “No one should be assaulted like this and for those who are working in the front line to protect communities it is really appalling that anyone thinks it is OK to behave in this way.

“Throughout this whole pandemic key workers in the police, NHS, fire service, and other essential public services have been selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way and spending precious time away from their loved ones to protect the communities they serve.

“I find it abhorrent therefore that anyone would ever think to spit or cough at an emergency worker and those who commit this crime should face the full force of the law.”

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