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Chief constable backs longer sentences for emergency staff assaults

PUBLISHED: 15:09 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 13 September 2018

The Norfolk chief of police has welcomed a new law introducing longer maximum sentences for those convicted of assaults on emergency services workers.

Chief constable Simon Bailey described the rise in assaults on police officers in Norfolk as “a really significant uplift” and said the stories of assault were “worrying”.

He said: “When you look at the profile of these assaults on some of our colleagues, careers are being ended.

“We are not talking about pushing and shoving here.

“The figures are really worrying - 132 assaults caused injuries and 19 of these were offences of malicious wounding or grievous bodily harm.”

Mr Bailey added that he hoped the new law would act as a deterrent, and said: “Those offices on duty every day are there to protect our communities.

“Ultimately, the vast majority of my colleagues live and work in the county. They are part of the county of Norfolk.

“They don’t come to work to be victims of assault.

“I hope this sends a very strong message to anybody who contemplates assaulting a police officer.”

But Mr Bailey said the impact of the new legislation would have to be fully understood before he would support further increases to sentencing.

He said: “What we have to do is understand the impact this has before we look at longer sentences - with every longer sentence it creates further demand on the system.”

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill received Royal Assent today, Thursday, September 13, and will come into force in November.

It will double maximum sentences for those who physically or sexually assault members of the emergency services to a year.

The crackdown comes just months after Home Office figures revealed a 32pc rise in assaults on police officers in Norfolk, with 515 attacks recorded between April 2017 and March 2018.

The figures equate to a further 125 officers assaulted, compared to the 390 assaults sustained in Norfolk in 2016-17.

Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation, welcomed the new law, and said: “Being assaulted, whether you are a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic, must never be seen as part of the job and the sentences should be harsher.”

READ MORE: New law brings in tougher sentences for assaults on emergency staff

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