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PCC supports plans for tougher sentences for emergency worker assault

PCC Barry Coppinger with Emergency Services Day flag

PCC Barry Coppinger has arranged for the Emergency Services Flag to fly at the Community Safety Hub

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger has backed plans for tougher sentences for assaults on emergency workers.

The Sentencing Council and Ministry of Justice are currently consulting on increasing the maximum penalty for assaults on police and prison officers, paramedics and firefighters from one to two years in prison.

Mr Coppinger will submit his support to the consultation next week and has written to Cleveland’s six MPs asking them to join him in supporting the proposed changes.

To show solidarity with blue light workers, Mr Coppinger has also arranged for the emergency services’ flag to be flown at the Community Safety Hub in Middlesbrough for the duration of the public consultation.

Mr Coppinger said: “I wholeheartedly support the Government’s attempt to double the maximum penalty for assaults on emergency workers.

“I also backed the original Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 legislation. The law means judges must consider tougher sentences for more serious offences – such as GBH or sexual assault – if the victim is an emergency worker.

“Quite simply, abuse or assault should never be a normal part of the job for emergency workers, who so often put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities.

“At a time when emergency workers have been under immense pressure due to COVID-19, I think the very least we can do is protect them during their work to keep the community safe.”

Mr Coppinger introduced Cleveland’s Emergency Services Day celebrations, hosting an annual event to recognise the work of all services at the frontline of emergency response.

The consultation will run for four weeks and, depending on the response to the consultation, legislation could be brought forward.

Proposals come at a time when Cleveland’s emergency services have banded together tocondemn an increase in assaults during the lockdown months and beyond. 

Cleveland Police, Cleveland Fire Brigade and North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) have all seen a rise in assaults on workers from March through to May this year.

Police saw assaults on officers rise from 41 in March to 49 in April and 61 in May - an increase of 75% compared to 2019.

Cleveland Fire Brigade saw 13 incidents during March, April and May, including a tree trunk thrown through the windscreen of a fire engine and bricks aimed at crews as they tackled a garden fire.

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) staff based in Cleveland reported at least 27 incidents during March, April, May and June.

Nationally, more than 11,000 people were prosecuted for assaulting an emergency worker in 2019. A quarter of those found guilty received a suspended sentence or immediate custody.

 

Posted on Friday 24th July 2020
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