Jail sentences for officer assaults to be doubled

New legislation will be fast-tracked to double the maximum sentences for assaults on police officers from 12 months to two years.

The Government has brought forward a change in the law in response to extensive lobbying by the national Police Federation and its Protect the Protectors campaign in the wake of a growing number of assaults on officers.

Maria Henry, chair of Gwent Police Federation, said the move was welcome news: “This change will send a clear message that assaults on police officers and other emergency service workers are completely unacceptable.

“We now need the courts to hand out the toughest possible sentences to reverse the current trend of a rising number of these assaults which, in recent months, have seen some officers being spat and coughed on by offenders claiming to have coronavirus.”

More than 11,000 people were prosecuted for assaulting an emergency worker in 2019, according to Ministry of Justice statistics.

This latest change in the law will be the second in two years after the 2018 Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act increased the maximum sentence from six months to a year.

The new law will mean that when a person is convicted of offences, including sexual assault or manslaughter, a judge must consider whether an offence against an emergency worker merits an increase in sentence.