New law to prevent assaults on emergency services ‘not strong enough deterrent’

A new law to crack down on attacks on police and emergency services staff did not go far enough as a deterrent, according to an MP who campaigned for the legislation.

Brought in last year, the new law doubled the length of sentences available to magistrates – from six months to a year.

Figures obtained by the BBC under Freedom of Information laws show that police in England and Wales made a total of 6,663 arrests between November 2018 and May this year. Some 34 out of 43 forces responded.

Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax, told the broadcaster that the Government needs “to get really tough on this” because the numbers are “still too high”.

“It didn’t go quite as far as we would like in terms of being a deterrent,” she said.

“What I’m seeing far too often is, when sentences are handed out, they are suspended sentences or things like community resolutions … which is not enforceable.”

Brian Booth, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, told the BBC that the tougher new sentencing law is “no good if you’re not using it” and that up to 50 officers a week in the region are being assaulted every week.

“They’re getting head-butted, they’re getting punched, kicked,” he said.

“Some are getting quite serious injuries, where they’re having a substantial amount of time off work, and this impacts on demand because the public aren’t getting the service they need from the officers.”

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