Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has welcomed news that those who attack or assault emergency service workers will receive longer jail terms.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, which received Royal Assent yesterday (13/09), will see the maximum prison sentence for a common assault where the victim is an emergency service or NHS worker double from six to 12 months.
The law means courts will consider more serious assaults committed against emergency workers as an aggravating factor in sentencing, therefore meriting an increased sentence. It covers emergency workers, including the fire service, search and rescue services, police, prison officers, custody offers and ambulance personnel.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, 750 firefighters in England were attacked when attending operational incidents.
Rob Davis, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for AF&RS, said: “It is completely unacceptable for our staff to be threatened, attacked or verbally abused while responding to incidents in the area.
“While the numbers of incidents our staff face is relatively low, just one is too many.
“We welcome news that Parliament has passed this new Bill and hope that it will serve as a deterrent to protect not only our staff but all emergency services staff who often put their lives on the line to protect the community.”
There is already a specific offence for assaulting a police officer, but for the first time, similar protection will be extended to anyone carrying out the work of an emergency service. The law also provides extra protection to unpaid volunteers who support the delivery of emergency services.