Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb has welcomed a review into sentencing for offenders who attack emergency workers.
Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel have launched a consultation into the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which will look at doubling sentences for offenders.
Roger said it would send out a strong message of support for members, but that any change must be backed by the full weight of the criminal justice system.
“Our members and their emergency worker colleagues have been on the front-line of this pandemic, serving their communities, helping the vulnerable and protecting the NHS,” he said.
“This is why it’s been sickening to see so many attacks and assaults on brave workers doing their duty. Some have been spat at and coughed on by people claiming to have coronavirus.
“As a Federation, our Protect the Protectors campaign was a huge success and led to the Assaults on Emergency Services Workers (Offences) Act being introduced in November 2018.
“However, clearly the maximum one-year jail sentence that is set out for these offences doesn’t seem to act as much of a deterrent.
“Doubling that maximum sentence will send out a powerful message of support for our members and their emergency services colleagues, but it must be backed up by the courts using the sentencing powers available to them.”
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, has also welcomed the consultation and has reiterated his calls for more consistency in sentencing.
He said: “The Police Federation has been relentless in pushing for an increase in maximum jail sentences for those who attack emergency workers. However, any further increases in sentencing could be meaningless without the full support of the courts. This should include consistency of sentencing, which is not the case at this time.
“Assaulting a police officer is completely unacceptable and there must be a suitable deterrent. I accept there will always be times where an offender does not receive a custodial sentence. However, this must be the exception and not the norm,” he added.