THE courts must ‘play their part’ in ensuring those who assault police officers are adequately dealt with, says Hampshire Police Federation.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced plans to double the maximum length of sentencing for those who attack bluelight workers to two years.
That’s a 12-month increase on the tariff brought in by 2018’s Protect the Protectors Bill.
That was championed as being a deterrent against assaults. But the number of attacks on officers has gone up since then with many in recent months being linked to coronavirus.
While she’s pleased to see Whitehall taking the issue seriously, doubling sentencing will only work if the courts impose stricter terms, says Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoe Wakefield.
“The courts definitely need to play their part and implement the sentences as they can, and if they’ve got the power to implement custodial sentences, then they should be doing that,” she said.
“They should be sending out the right message to these individuals that it is not acceptable, and it is serious, and they will be appropriately punished for it,” she said.
“I very much welcome any doubling of sentencing for those who assault officers and other emergency service workers.
“I hope it will be a deterrent, but if it’s not at least the time when they are incarcerated, they are unable to assault anyone.
“It is concerning that assaults on officers are still on the rise despite lots of good work by forces and the Federation locally and nationally.”
The increase can partly be blamed on an image of policing portrayed by the media, Zoe added.
“I think the lack of respect shown by some members of the public towards police officers is not helped by the constant bashing that we get by some aspects of the media.
“We are continuing to do further work on the officer assaults. I’m doing some work with our officer safety training team to look at how we review the assaults that have happened, and if there’s anything more, we can do from a training aspect.
“It is concerning, and it does worry me with these large intakes of new officers that we’re going to have a lot of inexperienced officers.
“What I don’t want to see is officers young in service being assaulted and then that having an impact on them.”