AN MP who secured backing for a Police Covenant is hoping tougher sentences for anyone who assaults an emergency worker will be included – to provide justice for more than 700 paramedics, police officers and firefighters across Cheshire attacked last year.
Tatton MP Esther McVey said including the provision to extend sentencing powers in the Covenant would protect all the dedicated firefighters, ambulance crews and police officers who put their lives on the line each day.
Ms McVey met with constituents who have two sons, both of who are police officers and the parents want mandatory prison sentences for anyone who attacks an officer.
As it stands anyone guilty of assaulting an emergency worker can be given a 12 month sentence – which has been increased from six months.
McVey obtained figures which show there were 625 assaults on Cheshire police officers, 65 attacks on paramedics and a further 14 on the county’s fire fighters.
She said: “One attack on a public sector worker is one too many . So we must ensure that those responsible feel the full force of the law. Fire fighters, ambulance crews and police officers threatened or attacked for doing their job must know government is committed to punishing anyone who attacks them. Emergency service workers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and we must do everything we can to protect them, including using the full force of the law by punishing people who attack them. Their jobs also affect their families as they understandably worry about their safety.
“I am pleased a Conservative Government doubled the amount of time someone can be sentenced but we need to have a discussion on whether that sentence is sufficient or if it needs increasing further.”
Magistrates and judges can deal with offenders charged with assaulting an emergency worker with other crimes including ABH, GBH but most are charged with assault on an emergency worker meaning the maximum sentence is 12 months.
Figures Ms McVey requested from the House of Commons library show of the 625 assaults on Cheshire Police officers in the year 2018/19, 148 were recorded as resulting in an injury. A breakdown from North West Ambulance Service show of the 65 incidents in the county, there was one sexual assault and 13 assaults when staff were trying to restrain a patient for safety reasons, in the 12 months ending on September 30. The numbers do not include verbal assaults towards the crews or call centre staff. Cheshire’s fire fighters saw 14 attacks last year and to date have recorded three this year as of the end of September.
Earlier this year Government adopted calls led by Ms McVey for a Police Covenant, which would offer officers security both in and out of the job. Government will consult on details of the Covenant and Ms McVey hopes it will include measures to increase the current sentencing term for anyone who attacks an emergency worker.
She said: “I stood on a platform of extra money for police to tackle crime and through working with police, the Police Federation and Police and Crime Commissioners and 100 Conservative MPs I brought forward the need for a police covenant. I was delighted it has been adopted and the Prime Minister promised to put an extra 20,000 police officers on the streets. It is important that all Officers and emergency workers know that we value their safety and that anyone who attacks them as they carry out their work will face serious consequences.
“Following on from discussions with constituents I have also asked the Ministry of Justice if there are plans to allow all police officers to carry tazers, which could reduce the seriousness of attacks.”