Consultation to increase maximum sentence for assaults on emergency workers
The West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has provided his support to increasing sentences for those who assault emergency workers.
PCC Mark Burns-Williamson presented a package of evidence to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners earlier this month.
It forms part of a wider submission to the Lord Chancellor, who sought views on how the Assault on Emergency Services (Offences) Act 2018 was operating in practice.
It considers whether the maximum penalty for this offence should be doubled from 1 year to 2 years. PCC Mark Burns-Williamson said:
“Having initially campaigned under ‘Protect the Protectors’ with local MPs including Holly Lynch MP, West Yorkshire Police and the West Yorkshire Police Federation, I am pleased to see this consultation proposal building on this hard work.
“Since the introduction of the Assault of Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, the charge rate in West Yorkshire has increased for these offences, to 74.4%.
“In spite of this, the numbers of attacks on emergency workers is rising locally and nationally with 2,185 assaults on West Yorkshire Police officers in the 2019/20 financial year alone, a rise of 15.2% (288 assaults) on the previous year.
“The Secretary of State was keen to hear views as to whether the current maximum penalty provided the courts with sufficient powers to reflect the seriousness of the offending and I have submitted evidence of our experiences locally.
“This includes examples of the most serious nature that make clear the scenario currently being faced, not to mention implications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Police officers and staff are increasingly attending complex situations, and more needs to be done to understand the wider contexts of assaults.
“For instance, the percentage that are perpetrated by those with acute mental health conditions.
“Supporting people in crisis can help prevent violence before it occurs and this must also be a priority in order to keep officers and staff safe.
“Violence of any sort against is unacceptable and I strongly welcome any measures that deter violence against police officers, staff and their emergency service colleagues, including introducing legislation to further increase sentences where appropriate.”