THE NEW safeguards in place for Britain’s emergency services and first responders are thanks, in no small part, to the tireless work of Yorkshire MPs Holly Lynch and Philip Davies, ably assisted by their colleagues who have supported this national campaign for change.
Not only did they identify the inadequacies of existing laws, and the public’s desire for stronger sentences for those who lash out against 999 workers with truly shocking scales of frequency, but they worked together on a cross-party basis to advance the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill.
This has been an example of politics at its best. And, while the Government has accepted the case for sexual assaults against emergency workers to be included in the so-called Protect The Protectors legislation championed by Chris Bryant, it’s regrettable that Justice Minister Rory Stewart did not altogether share the urgency that was shown by his colleagues – and the importance attached to this issue by their constituents.
The consequence is likely to be a watered down piece of legislation that does not have the deterrent effect envisaged at the outset – or reflect the health fears, and anxiety, of those police officers, firefighters, paramedics and others who have the misfortune to be spat at.
On too many occasions for the public good, Mr Stewart appeared to be looking for reasons not to act when he should have been throwing the full weight of the Government behind these law changes. Emergency workers face a tough enough job without the law letting them down, and the Minister needs to go away and reflect upon this.