Ministry of Justice
Jail time to double for assaulting an emergency worker
New law protecting emergency workers from assault to receive Royal Assent today (Thursday 13 September 2018).
- maximum sentence for assault against them to double from 6 to 12 months in prison
- courts must also consider the strongest penalties for other offences against emergency workers
Individuals who assault or attack emergency workers face longer jail terms as a new law backed by government receives Royal Assent today.
A new offence will double the maximum sentence from 6 to 12 months in prison for assaulting an emergency worker. This covers police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and paramedics.
The new law will also mean that judges must consider tougher sentences for a range of other offences - including GBH and sexual assault - if the victim is an emergency worker.
Ministers have acted to recognise the debt of gratitude the public feels towards our emergency services, and for the courage, commitment and dedication they show every day in carrying out their duties.
Justice Minister Rory Stewart said:
Assaulting prison officers or any emergency worker is not just an isolated attack – it represents violence against the public as a whole.
Every day these public servants do extraordinary work on our behalf, and they must be able to do it without the fear of being assaulted.
Our message is clear – we will protect our emergency services and violence towards them will not be tolerated.
I’d like to thank Chris Bryant MP, and other colleagues from across the House for their tireless work introducing this important law.
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 2 years too.
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.
The government worked closely with Chris Bryant MP, who introduced the Bill, to draft the legislation and ensure its successful passage through Parliament. Following its Royal Assent today, the measures will come into force in November.
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