Bill to 'Protect the Protectors' goes before MPs
19 July 2017
MPs came together today to offer cross party support for a bill that seeks to deter assaults on emergency service workers.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Private Members Bill was laid before the House on 19 July by Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda.
Earlier in the day he was joined by MPs from across the political divide, including the former Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, and Labour’s ex-Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, in a show of support.
Mr Bryant said: “It is so important that we protect the protectors. One of the really shocking injustices is that we have is so many assaults on police officers, and for that matter other emergency workers, in the last few years, and sentences that have been handed down have been wholly inadequate to deal with the problem.”
Holly Lynch, the Halifax MP who previously introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill calling for stronger deterrents for those who assault emergency services, added her delight that the issue is going forward as a Private Members Bill.
She said: “The work of our emergency services has never been on the agenda quite so much as at the moment. Everybody really sees, really appreciates, the work they do that’s so important to keeping [the public] safe. It’s our job as legislators to make sure that we are keeping them safe. I’ve been so concerned that’s not the case as it stands in law.”
Mr Bryant’s bill incorporates many of the provisions that the Federation and partner organisations have been calling as part of our Protect the Protectors campaign. It will:
- introduce new offences including wounding or assault when perpetrated against an emergency worker in the performance of their duties;
- where those suspected of assault may pose a health risk, including spitting, they will be compelled to undergo blood tests;
- it will be an offence to refuse to undergo such tests; and
- it will lay down tough sentences for those convicted of these new offences.
The bill will now go forward for a second reading on 20 October.
PFEW Vice Chair, Calum Macleod, said: “I am delighted that so many cross party members of Parliament are supporting this bill. It has the potential to better protect those who serve the public, day-in day-out, and often go above and beyond in situations. They place the safety of the public above their own and deserve the full protection of the law.”
Find out more about Protect the Protectors.