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Thursday, 13 September 2018

New law to tackle 'national scandal' of attacks on emergency workers

Written by Hayden Smith

A crackdown on violence against emergency workers is set to be rubber-stamped.

Criminals who attack victims including police, prison officers, fire service personnel and paramedics, will face longer jail terms under the strengthened regime.

A new offence will double the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from six to 12 months.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill will receive Royal Assent on Thursday, with the measures coming into force in November.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who presented the Private Members' Bill, said: "The growing tide of attacks on emergency workers, including ambulance workers, NHS staff, fire officers, prison officers and police, is a national scandal.

"All too often attackers get away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

"I hope this new law will help put a stop to that attitude."

The Government backed the new law, which will also mean judges must consider tougher sentences for a range of other offences, including GBH and sexual assault, if the victim is an emergency worker.

Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: "Assaulting prison officers or any emergency worker is not just an isolated attack, it represents violence against the public as a whole."

Kim Sunley, national officer at the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Physical assaults remain a fact of life for many healthcare workers, from A&E to community services.

"This Bill is the first step towards changing that for good."

Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: "We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to deliberate threats, abuse or violence made to any NHS staff. This behaviour from patients or members of the public will never be tolerated and should rightly be reported to the police."

The Bill covers a range of emergency workers including police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and certain healthcare staff including ambulance personnel and nurses.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) NWAS / PA Wire.