People who assault or attack emergency workers are to face longer jail terms.
The maximum jail term for assaulting an emergency worker, including fire service personnel, will double from six to 12 months.
And, after the new law takes effect in November, judges will have to consider tougher sentences for a range of other offences, including grievous bodily harm and sexual assault, if the victim is an emergency services worker or volunteer.
Phil Loach, our Chief Fire Officer, welcomed the move. He said: “Any attack upon our firefighters is one too many and will not be tolerated.
“Our crews work closely with their local communities to make them safe areas in which to live and work but, sadly, they are subjected to occasional violence.
“It is mainly verbal abuse. However, they do also experience physical attack and have things thrown at them and their response vehicles.
“Any violence makes it more difficult for firefighters to carry out their key role, and ultimately puts the public at risk from a delayed or hampered response.”
Nationally, In 2016/17, there were 738 incidents involving an attack on firefighters, up 116 on the previous year. Here in the West Midlands we’ve seen a 31% increase over the past year in the number of reports of violence against our staff. There were 91 reports of verbal abuse and 22 of physical abuse, including missile throwing.
Added CFO Loach: “All of our fire crews work hard, every day, to build strong links with their local communities. They can draw on this trust and understanding at incidents if necessary.
“We work with local police and other agencies to educate those who think this sort of behaviour is acceptable. Where appropriate, we will work closely with West Midlands Police to prosecute and bring culprits to justice.”
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, said: “Being attacked should never be part of the job for our courageous emergency services workers, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. This law will ensure judges can properly punish those despicable individuals who think it’s acceptable to assault these hard-working men and women.”