‘It’s become a free-for-all for attacking officers’ - Backing for tougher sentences for assaults on police

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation. PIC: Supplied by Andy Symonds.

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation. PIC: Supplied by Andy Symonds. - Credit: Archant

Plans to double the maximum prison sentence for those who assault police officers and other emergency workers is being backed by officers in Norfolk.

Just two years ago, a change in the law meant the maximum jail term for offenders who assault police, ambulance, fire workers and tbose working in the NHS, increased from six months to a year in England and Wales.

But plans to double the penalty to two years are being considered by the government after a consultation was launched.

Andy Symonds, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in the county, has backed the move for a consultation on tougher sentences.

He said: “I’m pleased that the home secretary has launched a consultation on doubling the sentence for those who attack my colleagues as well as other emergency service workers.

“However what we need is consistent sentencing from the courts so that those who attack my colleagues will receive a sentence behind bars.

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“We have to get to a position in which those ‘would be’ violent offenders think twice about assaulting officers as they know that in all likelihood they will be sent to prison.

“At the present time we don’t have this and therefore it feels to officers that it’s become a free-for-all in attacking them.”

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He added: “I have seen the horrific attacks on my colleagues and the resultant injuries which put at risk their careers as officers. I have supported officers through the ill health retirement process because their injuries sustained from being violently attacked have meant they can no longer work as a police officer.

“These attacks cause significant physical and mental injuries which at the moment not enough cognisance of these impacts are taken into account when the offenders are sentenced.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said doubling the jail time to two years would send a “clear and simple message” that “vile thugs” would not get away with such “appalling behaviour”.

The home secretary said: “They are our frontline heroes who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, and yet some despicable individuals still think it’s acceptable to attack, cough or spit at these courageous public servants.”

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