TODAY, Parliament has a chance to enshrine its respect for all emergency workers, and first responders, into law. It must be taken – and any MP who dares to thwart the Parliamentary passage of the Emergency Service Workers Bill can expect the full opprobrium of the country – and their constituents.
Inspired by Halifax MP Holly Lynch, and now being led by senior backbencher Chris Bryant, it is hoped that tougher sentences for those who abuse and assault police officers, firefighters, ambulance crews, NHS workers and other frontline staff will act as a deterrent.
This is not a knee-jerk reaction. Quite the opposite. Ms Lynch, a policeman’s daughter, has worked tirelessly since her election in 2015 to establish the scale of the problem, talk to victims about the impact of such vile behaviour on their lives and to build a cross-party consensus.
Precisely the type of leadership that voters expect of their MPs, an unanimous vote today would demonstrate – in the strongest terms possible – this country’s support for all who, in the line of duty, run towards trouble and, in doing so, put their personal safety and lives on the line.
Coming 24 hours after a disturbing increase in the prevalence of knife crime was revealed, the daily risks are omnipresent. And the problem is growing – this newspaper reported just last month of 6,000 assaults on police officers, firefighters and front-line NHS staff in the region in just two years.
This is just one area. Apply it nationwide – and the case for stronger action against those offenders who physically, verbally and, on occasion, sexually assault emergency workers becomes overwhelming, underpinned, of course, by the 999 services sharing intelligence on the identity of those who pose the greatest risk to the safety of frontline responders.
As such, The Yorkshire Post is proud, on behalf of its readers and this region, to give its backing to all those striving to protect the protectors – and hopes, and expects, MPs to also do likewise.