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‘Protect The Protectors’ Bill wins MPs’ support

  • Posted On 20 Jul 2017

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    Protect The Protectors


    A bill calling for tougher sentences for those who assault police officers and other emergency service workers won cross-party support in the House of Commons yesterday.


    The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Private Members’ Bill, presented by Chris Bryant, the MP for Rhonda, will now go forward for a second reading on 20 October.


    “This is welcome news,” says Tom Cuddeford, chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, “We are all too aware that assaults on police officers and other emergency staff are becoming more and more commonplace with the sentences handed down to offenders sometimes not seeming to fit the crime.


    “This bill, should it finally make it through to law, will ensure that the police and other emergency personnel have better protection. Tougher sentences should suitably punish those responsible for these attacks and act as a deterrent.


    “It also calls for compulsory health testing of suspects who may present a health risk which will be a great step forward since as the law currently stands we have officers who, along with their families, face months of anguish as they wait to find out if they have contracted a disease after being assaulted or spat at.”


    The bill incorporates many of the provisions that the Police Federation and partner organisations have been calling for as part of its Protect The Protectors campaign.


    It will:


    • introduce new offences including wounding or assault when perpetrated against an emergency worker in the performance of their duties
    • compel those suspected of assault – including spitting - who may pose a health risk to undergo blood tests
    • make it an offence to refuse to undergo such tests, and
    • lay down tough sentences for those convicted of these new offences.


    Mr Bryant explained: “It is so important that we protect the protectors. One of the really shocking injustices is that we have is so many assaults on police officers, and for that matter other emergency workers, in the last few years, and sentences that have been handed down have been wholly inadequate to deal with the problem.”


    Holly Lynch, the Halifax MP who previously introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill calling for stronger deterrents for those who assault emergency services, said she was delighted that the issue is going forward as a Private Members’ Bill.


    She said: “The work of our emergency services has never been on the agenda quite so much as at the moment. Everybody really sees, really appreciates, the work they do that’s so important to keeping [the public] safe. It’s our job as legislators to make sure that we are keeping them safe. I’ve been so concerned that’s not the case as it stands in law.”

     
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