OFFENDERS who assault police officers need to be given stronger sentences, Hampshire Police Federation has said, as the number of assaults continues to rise.
There were 30,000 assaults against police officers in the last year, and the College of Policing estimated that 71,308 days were taken as sick leave in 2018/19 as a result of assaults.
The Government is increasing the maximum sentence for those who assault an emergency worker from one to two years, but Chair of Hampshire Police Federation Zoë Wakefield said that these sentences were still not being handed down by the courts.
PFEW Chair John Apter recently held a remote meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel, in which Patel said: “An assault on an emergency worker is reprehensible and it is thoroughly unacceptable.”
The Home Secretary continued: “I do believe that there should be strong sentences, firm sentences, just sentences, for those individuals.” She said she wanted sentencing to send a powerful message to perpetrators and say that “as a society we’re not going to tolerate this”.
But Zoë doesn’t think this goes far enough. She said: “The Home Secretary has increased sentences and has also said that she’s going to monitor sentences. But I’d like to see something more with the judges and the magistrates and the Crown Prosecution Service to make sure that these stronger sentences are actually being dished out in the courts.
“There’s a lot more work that can be done with officer safety training to try to prevent some of these assaults, but we can’t stop every single assault. If the perpetrators are getting decent sentences and are actually being locked up, officers feel like they are valued and that the assault on them has been taken seriously.
“Also, the whole time these people are locked up they can’t be assaulting anybody else. They might, when they’re incarcerated, think about not doing it again. But when they’re being given suspended sentences, or not being given a custodial sentence, the deterrent’s not there at all.
“There’s no point in having the Home Secretary increasing these sentences if the magistrates and the judges aren’t going to make use of that.”