Easington MP Grahame Morris has expressed his thanks and gratitude to Ambulance staff, after a weekend that saw three crews assaulted.
Last month Mr Morris raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act 2018
Home Office figures provided to Mr Morris showed that only 16% of those found guilty of assaulting an emergency worker received a custodial sentence, with the average prison term being just 2.6 months.
Following the weekend’s incidents, including one in the Easington Constituency, Mr Morris said:
“Like most people, I find the idea of someone attacking an emergency worker, who is trying to help them, as completely incomprehensible. I tabled questions last month after a spitting attack on police officers where the offender received a suspended sentence. A spitting attack is unacceptable but it is particularly appalling during a public health crisis.
I am concerned about the attack on an Ambulance crew working in East Durham on Sunday. There needs to be a clear message that attacks on Emergency Workers will not be tolerated and that offenders will be arrested and prosecuted. There should also be an expectation that if you commit such an offence, the most likely outcome will be a custodial sentence.
These assaults are terrible for staff health, well-being and safety at work. However, these attacks are also crimes against the whole community, which loses access to medically trained staff and equipment, put out of use following an incident.
I hope those prosecuted realise the consequences of their actions, and how it could be their loved ones who need the police, fire service or an ambulance which is unavailable due to an attack.”
In his response to Mr Morris, Chris Philp MP, Minister for the Courts said the Government would consult on increasing the maximum penalty from 12 months to 2 years for assaulting emergency workers.
Mr Morris said:
“I have no objection to increasing the maximum sentence; however, the Government must acknowledge that the courts are not fully using their current sentencing powers.
The courts are yet to impose a maximum 12-month sentence, and the government figures show just a single case received a sentence above six months from over 9,000 convictions in 2019.
We are not doing enough to protect our emergency workers, and the Government should urgently review the guidelines to understand why the courts are not using the range of sentencing powers available to them.”