MP's Bill aims to protect 999'¨staff from assaults on duty

A YORKSHIRE MP's campaign to crack down on assaults against emergency services staff has taken a leap forward, following the introduction of a new Bill designed to toughen up sentencing.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch

Tabled by the Halifax MP Holly Lynch, the Crime (Assaults on Emergency Services Staff) Bill would increase penalties for a range of offences, including malicious wounding, grievous bodily harm and common assault.

The legislation marks the latest stage in the Labour MP’s long-running campaign to improve protections for emergency workers, in response to the scale of abuse reported by police, ambulance and fire crews every year.

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Presenting the Bill to Parliament yesterday, Ms Lynch urged her fellow MPs to back her in ensuring “dedicated public servants” receive the support they deserve.

“To assault a police officer is to show a complete disregard for law and order, our shared values and democracy itself, and that must be reflected in sentencing,” she said.

“Many officers described feeling like they had suffered an injustice twice – first at the hands of the offender; and then again in court when sentences were unduly lenient.

“Paramedics, firefighters, doctors and nurses are sadly also in need of these protections – yet it is worth remembering that when they find themselves under attack, it is the police who are called.

“I hope that this change... will go a small way towards giving these dedicated public servants the protections they should not require, but sadly do.”

According to the latest Home Office statistics, there were just over 23,000 assaults on police officers last year – equivalent to 450 a week.

And a recent report by The Yorkshire Post revealed the scale of abuse faced by Yorkshire Ambulance crews, with 1,500 incidents recorded in the last three years alone.

In addition to stricter sentencing for assaults against staff, Ms Lynch’s Bill will also introduce a new requirement for offenders to undergo blood tests if guilty of an offence such as spitting.

It will also introduce penalties for anyone who refuses to undergo such tests “without reasonable excuse”.

The Bill is due to have its second reading in the Commons on March 24. Ms Lynch said she hoped Home Office ministers “will reflect on its merit”.