'Stop treating our police officers like punchbags'

A new law designed to protect emergency service workers from being assaulted at work is not having the desiredeffect, the chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation has claimed.
A new law designed to protect emergency service workers from being assaulted at work is not having the desiredeffect, the chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation has claimed.
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A new law designed to protect emergency service workers from being assaulted at work is not having the desired effect, the chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation has claimed.

Brian Booth said the Protect the Protectors’ Bill, which was given Royal Assent back in September, is not having the desired effect he had hoped as assaults on officers in the West Yorkshire force continue to rise.

West Yorkshire Police Federation chair Brian Booth.

West Yorkshire Police Federation chair Brian Booth.

In the last week alone there has been 36 assaults on officers and staff. Offences include being kicked, punched, bitten, spat at and head butted.

Mr Booth said: “On average there are between 30 and 50 assaults on our staff every week.

“The force is now looking at a review about why the new law is not working for us.

“Let’s stop talking about a maximum 12 month sentence for those who attack our officers and let’s start talking about a minimum sentence, in Australia I believe that is six months.

“Our officers are going to work to serve the public and people are treating them like punchbags.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch was responsible for successfully bringing out the new legislation designed to protect emergency service workers after two years of campaigning.

Her campaign was born out of her experience whilst shadowing West Yorkshire Police in Halifax, where a routine vehicle stop quickly escalated and the officer she was with found himself surrounded by an angry group.

The MP found herself having to call 999 for back up from the police vehicle.

At the time the law was passed, she said:“I hope the new law will form a deterrent, and help bring about a cultural change, so that assaults are better reported and no longer considered just ‘part of the job’ for our emergency service workers.”

The Home Office has been contacted for a statement.