HOLLY LYNCH knows all too well the risks which confront Britain’s emergency workers on each shift. A policeman’s daughter, the Halifax MP’s experiences of life on the beat inspired her much-praised Protect The Protectors Bill that becomes law today.
The culmination of nearly three years of painstaking work by Ms Lynch, and then her colleague Chris Bryant who took up this Private Members Bill, it means any individual convicted of assaulting an emergency worker, or prison officer, can face 12 months in prison – double the current sentence.
And not before time. According to the Ministry of Justice, there were 26,000 assaults on police officers in the past year – individuals who routinely put their safety on the line to protect the public that they serve.
As such, this legislation is long overdue and, following its Royal Assent, there will be no excuse for the courts not to use their new sentencing powers in full so that they act as a deterrent. After all, the number of attacks suggests that magistrates have been too lenient in the past.
Yet this is not just a landmark day for the criminal justice system. It should also represent a watershed for the conduct of politics. For, given what Ms Lynch has achieved by working consensually with others, it suggests that Parliament should make more time available in the future for consideration of Private Members Bills advocated by backbenchers.
Given the extent to which the Government is now paralysed by Brexit, it might be the best way of enacting those common sense law changes that are in the public interest. After all, Ms Lynch has shown that it can be done.