UNLESS courts start jailing people for assaulting police officers, any increase in the maximum available sentence will be “pointless”.
That is the view of Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge, following reports that the Government is seeking to extend the maximum sentence under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 to two years.
New figures have shown that assaults on emergency workers rose by 24% in the four weeks to 7 June, which the National Police Chiefs’ Council has attributed to an increase in Covid-related attacks as well as public disorder at mass protests.
Alex said: “Chief officers have a really clear position both locally and nationally – people need to stop assaulting police officers.
“I welcome Priti Patel and the Government’s move to increase the sentencing powers, but unless people get sentenced it’s absolutely pointless.
“It is really important that we give the courts the opportunities to use those sentencing powers and we encourage the courts to put people in prison.
“I’m not going to say that on every single occasion they should go to prison, because life’s a bit more complex than that. But prison should be the starting point and we should work back from that. It sets a clear example that if you assault a police officer you go to prison.
“It’s similar to saying to children, ‘Hot, don’t touch’, and they touch it and burn themselves – there’s a clear consequence and they stop doing it, and that’s a learned behaviour.
“If, when people assault police officers they go to prison, people will quickly learn that it’s not appropriate and if you do so there’s a consequence.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would be launching a consultation to double the sentences for offenders who assault emergency workers from one to two years, to “make these thugs think twice”.
She said: “The senseless violence we have seen levelled at brave police officers in recent weeks is incredibly alarming. An attack on one of our brave officers is an attack on us all. I have always been clear that anyone who assaults the people who run towards danger to keep the rest of us safe should expect to face the full force of the law.”
The #ProtectTheProtectors campaign led to the creation of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, which doubled the maximum sentence for assaults on police officers and other emergency service workers from six to 12 months.