New guidelines to help courts determine how to sentence those who assault an emergency worker come into effect today, Thursday 1 July 2021.
The Sentencing Council guidelines will help courts in England and Wales to make a balanced assessment of the seriousness of the offence and impose a proportionate sentence.
It is the first time that judges and magistrates will have specific guidance for sentencing assault on emergency worker offences, which reflects legislation that increased the maximum sentence for common assault when the victim is an emergency worker.
The emergency services in Wales, where assaults on police, fire and ambulance crews have increased, have welcomed the new guidelines.
Dylan Parry, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Violence and Aggression Project Officer, said: “A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, so we need to ensure that when an emergency worker is assaulted, justice is delivered for them.
“These new guidelines are a welcome addition and bring clarity and consistency when sentencing such offences.”
Gwent Police’s Chief Constable Pam Kelly said: “Every assault on an emergency worker has a devastating impact on their friends, families and loved ones.
“This announcement is a step forward to ensuring that those individuals who commit a crime by assaulting an emergency worker are held to account.
“The guidance provided to judges and magistrates will ensure that sentences are proportionate but also reflect the hurt and pain inflicted by offenders.”
The Sentencing Council’s Her Honour Judge Rosa Dean added: “Assault is a traumatic offence and can cause great distress to the victim both physically and psychologically, and it is important that sentences reflect the harm and upset that can be caused to many people.
“The guidelines will ensure appropriate and proportionate sentences are imposed for these offences that fully recognise the level of harm caused to the victim.”
In 2018, the maximum sentence under the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act was doubled from six months to 12 months in prison, but criminals could soon face up to two years in prison under new laws.
In May, emergency workers in Wales launched the milestone new With Us, Not Against Us campaign to ask the public to treat them with respect.
Pledge your support and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #WithUsNotAgainstUs or #GydaNiNidYnEinHerbyn.