Many constituents have contacted me to ask that I support the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Private Member’s Bill which is having its Second Reading on 20 October.

We owe emergency service workers a debt of gratitude for the courage, commitment and dedication they demonstrate in carrying out their duties, which is why the Government is supporting the Bill to protect emergency workers. It is unlikely, therefore, that a vote will be required on Friday but I will be in London on Ministerial duty so will be able to vote in support if necessary.

The Bill covers emergency workers, which includes police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and certain healthcare workers including ambulance personnel.

It would create a statutory aggravating factor so that when a person is convicted of a specific offence, the judge would have to consider the fact that it was committed against an emergency worker as an aggravating factor, meriting an increase in the sentence within the maximum allowed for the particular offence.

This will cover assault causing ABH, wounding or inflicting GBH, and manslaughter. Separately, the Bill will create a new aggravated version of the offences of common assault and battery when committed against an emergency worker, for which the maximum allowed for common assault will be increased from 6 months to 12 months.   Attacking a person serving the public is already an aggravating factor in sentencing guidelines but this Bill will put on a statutory basis a specific requirement to consider assaults on emergency workers as aggravated.

The Bill also creates the power take blood samples, with consent, from people who have spat at or bitten emergency workers and exposed them to risk of infection.  In addition, it creates a new offence of failing to provide this blood sample without good cause and will also enable the taking of a non-intimate samples (like saliva) without consent.

These crucial changes will send a clear message that we will not tolerate attacks on our emergency workers, and we will work with MPs from all parties to ensure those who are violent face the full force of the law.

Dear Colleague

ASSAULTS ON EMERGENCY WORKERS (OFFENCES) BILL 

The second reading of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, tabled by Chris Bryant MP, will take place on Friday 20th October. This is an important Bill on a subject that is of concern to many members of the House and to the Government, and I know that a number of colleagues on our own side have long championed this issue. This Bill, which the policing minister Nick Hurd and I fully support and which has been drafted with the assistance of our departments, offers important new protections to emergency workers.

Our emergency workers should be able to carry out their duties without fear of assault. In broad terms, the Bill creates an offence of assault or battery committed against an emergency worker with an increased higher maximum penalty than common assault, makes sentencing for certain other offences aggravated when perpetrated against emergency workers, and enables blood samples to be taken, with their consent, from persons suspected of offences against such workers which may pose a risk of the transmission of an infectious disease. It also makes it an offence to, without good cause, refuse to provide such samples, and it extends the existing power to take ‘non-intimate’ samples (such as saliva) without consent, to circumstances in which the emergency worker has been exposed to the risk of the transmission of an infectious disease during the commission of an offence against them.   

We need to ensure that our emergency workers, those on the front line of responding to life or death situations or upholding the law, have the full protection of the law in carrying out their duties. This Bill will provide the police and the Courts with the powers they need to deal effectively with those who use violence against our emergency workers.     

Yours ever 

DOMINIC RAAB MP

Minister of State for Justice