AN MP who campaigned for anyone guilty of assault on an emergency worker to be handed 24 months behind bars is urging people to have their say and make it happen – as Government announces a consultation into heftier sentences.
Tatton MP Esther McVey wanted sentences increased from the current 12 months to two years and met with ministers to set out the case. The call followed meetings with local emergency workers and uncovering figures which showed in just one year there were 625 assaults on Cheshire police officers, 65 attacks on paramedics and a further 14 on the county’s fire fighters.
Last night Government announced it will consult on increasing the penalty.
Ms McVey said: “I am absolutely delighted Government is taking this matter as seriously as it needs to be taken. Our emergency workers do an outstanding job, putting themselves in danger to protect us each day, often without a thought for their own safety. Now more than ever the work of frontline medics is in everyone’s minds as they continue to battle through the pandemic, and we are extremely grateful to them and all the other emergency services. One assault on an emergency worker is too many but sadly there are many and people need to be appropriately punished.
“Last year I campaigned for a Police Covenant to be introduced, which Government is committed to, and suggested it could be used to increase sentencing, but I am delighted it is being looked at in its own right now too.”
The consultation announced by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel follows a manifesto commitment by Government to consult on tougher sentences. It will run for four weeks and could see legislation introduced to increase the sentence to 24 months, the second increase in two years, from the original six months.
Ms McVey added: “I was pleased a Conservative Government doubled the amount of time someone can be sentenced from six to 12 months, but we needed to go further, and I hope everyone will have their say to make this happen. I certainly will be making representations to Government.”
Some of the offences covered under assault include pushing or being spat on. If an emergency worker is seriously injured, the perpetrator can be charged with offences such as ABH, GBH or attempted murder which carry more hefty sentences.