Judges urged to hand out harsher sentences for attacks on South Yorkshire cops
Judges are being urged to hand out harsher sentences for attacks on police officers.
New sentencing guidelines come into force next month giving judges more scope to issue harsher sentences for attacks on police officers and other emergency service workers.
The Government has pledged to increase the maximum sentence available from 12 months to two years for assaults on emergency workers through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.
Government statistics show that 84 police officers a day are injured in England and Wales, with a total of 30,679 assaults recorded last year.
There were nearly 1,000 assaults on firefighters and on average, there are just over 200 reported attacks on NHS workers every day.
Steve Kent, chairman of South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said: “These improvements to the guidelines are welcome, however we need to make sure that the courts are not continuing to adopt the lighter end of the scale when it comes to sentences, some of which we have seen are pretty pathetic to say the least.
“I firmly believe that the only way this will be effective in the long run is for mandatory sentences to be introduced.”
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, added: “During the last few years, we have been highlighting to the Sentencing Council the dangers officers face and our serious concern about some perverse sentences, which has seen people walking from the court after some vicious attacks on our colleagues.
“It’s good to see that the Sentencing Council has taken on board our views about assaults on police, including the vile acts of spitting and weaponsing Covid, and these revised guidelines are a step in the right direction. What we need to see now, is judges making full use of the flexibility the guidelines provide to ensure that the sentence handed down reflects the seriousness and gravity of the crime.
“We will be watching closely to ensure we see a reduction in perverse sentences which result in thugs who attack emergency workers walking free from court with little more than a slap on the wrist.”