New law means jail sentences for attacks on firefighters has been doubled

A new law which will lead to longer jail sentences for individuals who attack or assault emergency service workers has been introduced today.

The ‘Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act’  means the penalty has increased from six months to a potential 12 month jail term.  

I am shocked and disgusted that attacks on firefighters continue to happen.

Roy Wilsher

Roy Wilsher, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council has welcomed the news, although voiced his anger that emergency service workers continue to be attacked in the line of duty.

The new law covers emergency workers,  including the fire service, search and rescue services, police, prison officers, custody offers and ambulance personnel. This Act will double the sentence for those found guilty. It also means judges must consider tougher sentences for a range of other offences - including GBH and sexual assault - if the victim is an emergency worker.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher, said: “While I am pleased that this new law has been introduced, I am shocked and disgusted that attacks on firefighters and other emergency services staff continue to happen.

“We have again seen a number of these attacks during the recent bonfire and fireworks period, with a number of fire services running campaigns to ask people not to attack them while they are responding to incidents, which is completely unacceptable.

“Last year the Home Office released statistics which highlighted almost 750 firefighters in England were attacked when attending operational incidents between April 2016 and March 2017. All emergency services staff work tirelessly to keep communities safe, often putting their own lives in danger in the line of duty; any attack is absolutely unthinkable. ”

Recent years have seen an increase in assaults on emergency workers, with 26,000 assaults on police officers in the past year and over 17,000 on NHS staff. Assaults on prison officers rose by 70% in the 3 years to 2017, with an 18% increase experienced by firefighters in the past two years.

There is already a specific offence for assaulting a police officer, but for the first time similar protection will be extended to anyone carrying out the work of an emergency service. The law also provides extra protection to unpaid volunteers who support the delivery of emergency services.

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