Doubling maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker
Anyone who assaults or attacks emergency workers could face longer jail terms, following the announcement of a consultation on doubling the maximum penalty for the offence.
In 2018 the Government changed the law (Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018) so that anyone found guilty of assaulting a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic faced a maximum of 12 months in prison. Judges must also consider tougher sentences for more serious offences – such as GBH or sexual assault – if the victim was an emergency worker.
Earlier this year, SHP reported that there have been up to 50 prosecutions for assaults on emergency workers every day, according to CPS. In response, the Government is seeking views from stakeholders, including representative bodies from the emergency services and the judiciary, on whether the maximum penalty should be doubled to two years behind bars.
The consultation will run for four weeks and, depending on the response to the consultation, legislation could be brought forward – which would see the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker doubled for the second time in two years.
Assault can cover acts such as a push, shove or being spat at. When an emergency worker is seriously injured, prosecutions will take place under more serious offences such as ABH, GBH, or attempted murder that have far longer sentences.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act modified the offence of common assault or battery where it is committed against emergency workers acting in the course of their functions, with a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment. This doubled the maximum penalty for common assault from 6 to 12 months for those who assault emergency workers, including police, prison staff, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue workers and frontline health workers.