THE courage and calmness shown by Pc Laura Kelly helping North Yorkshire Police to apprehend a knife-wielding robber in Scarborough after he had threatened staff – and stolen money from the till of a shop in the resort – is indicative of the risks which all officers face whenever they go out on patrol or respond to a 999 call.
Bravery which should never take for granted, it also helps explain why a crackdown on crime dominated the Queen’s Speech with the promise of new laws to ensure that the most serious offenders spend longer in prison before they become eligible for parole.
Yet, while it is very unlikely that this legislation will pass through Parliament before an election is called, there is nothing to stop Boris Johnson taking action now so that the criminal justice system does more to support the police and officers like Pc Kelly.
Why? For, while police welcome the PM’s stance, they are exasperated by the failure of the courts to use the full force of the law – set out in the so-called Protect The Protectors legislation – when offenders are convicted of assaulting emergency workers.
Pioneered by policeman’s daughter Holly Lynch after the Halifax MP went out on duty with West Yorkshire Police in order to become more acquainted with the challenges that officers face, new laws lose their deterrent effect if they’re not used by judges.
As such, a clearer understanding of the judiciary’s reluctance and reticence might help Ministers to frame more effective laws when Parliament is finally in a position to consider a new Sentencing Bill.