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Gloucestershire Business News

Sentencing to be doubled for assaults on emergency workers

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) and partners have welcomed plans to increase the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to two years.

On July 13, the government launched a targeted consultation with representative groups for emergency workers and other key stakeholders on doubling the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker.

A large majority of respondents were in favour of doubling the maximum penalty to ensure the law provides emergency workers with sufficient protection to allow them to carry out their duties and the penalty reflects the severity of the offence.

The case for providing these additional sentencing powers has also become stronger in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as there has been a national rise in the number of assaults on emergency workers.

When an emergency worker is seriously injured, prosecutions will continue to take place under more serious offences such as actual bodily harm (ABH), grievous bodily harm (GBH), or attempted murder that have far longer sentences.

Wayne Bowcock, chief fire officer and director of community safety, said: "Our firefighters risk their own lives everyday to protect us and it is totally unacceptable that they should encounter abuse or assault in the line of duty. This new law sends a clear and simple message - those who assault our emergency workers will not get away with such appalling behaviour."

Rhiannon Kirk, assistant chief constable at Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: "Assaults on officers have increased in recent years and national figures estimate that an assault on a police officer happens every four minutes, which is shocking.

"Assaulting any emergency worker, whether that's a police officer, firefighter or paramedic, should never be thought of as 'part of the job' so we welcome this change in helping send out a clear message that it is totally unacceptable."

Mike Jones, paramedic and violence reduction lead at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), said: "Our people and colleagues from other emergency and voluntary services dedicate themselves to protecting the lives of others. No one should come to work and be abused or subject to violent behaviour. 

"Doubling the maximum sentence sends a clear message that assaults on our frontline colleagues are #unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We will support our people to ensure offenders face the full extent of the law."

The #Unacceptable campaign, launched in 2018, aims to highlight the abuse and assaults faced by emergency services workers while on the job.

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