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'Protect The Protectors' Bill wins MPs' support

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

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.

"I am pleased to see that MPs are supporting this bill," says Tiff Lynch, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, "Assaults on the police and other emergency staff are getting more and more frequent and there needs to be harsher sentencing of these offenders to ensure they are suitably punished and also to act as a deterrent to others.

"Police officers lay their lives on the line to protect the communities they serve. At the very least, they need to know that the law offers them some protection from those who attack them as they go about their duties."

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."