Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom says doubling the maximum jail sentence for people who assault police and emergency service personnel will send out a powerful message of support for blue light workers.
Liz was speaking after Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel launched a four-week review into the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018.
It could result in the maximum sentence for assaulting emergency workers being doubled to two years in prison.
Liz said: “It has been sickening in the last few months to see the numbers of people who have tried to weaponise the coronavirus by coughing or spitting at our officers. Our members have been on the front-line in this pandemic and have worked tirelessly during the lockdown to serve their communities and protect the NHS.
“Any assault on one of our emergency services colleagues is totally unacceptable but even more so during these unprecedented times. As a Federation, our Protect the Protectors campaign led to the Assaults on Emergency Services Workers (Offences) Act being introduced.
“However, the one-year jail sentence set out for these offences doesn’t seem to act as a suitable punishment or deterrent.
“Doubling that sentence will send out a powerful message of support for our members and their emergency services colleagues, but it will need to be backed up by the courts.”
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, has also welcomed the consultation and has reiterated his calls for more consistency in sentencing.
He said: “The Police Federation has been relentless in pushing for an increase in maximum jail sentences for those who attack emergency workers. However, any further increases in sentencing could be meaningless without the full support of the courts. This should include consistency of sentencing, which is not the case at this time.
“Assaulting a police officer is completely unacceptable and there must be a suitable deterrent. I accept there will always be times where an offender does not receive a custodial sentence. However, this must be the exception and not the norm,” he added.