SOUTH Wales Police Chief Constable Matt Jukes has welcomed the introduction of new legislation which sets out tougher sentences for those who assault emergency workers while on duty.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 – which makes attacks on emergency workers including police, ambulance and fire crews an aggravating feature in terms of sentencing, and introduces a new offence for minor assaults against emergency workers – comes into force this week.
An average of nine officers are assaulted each week in South Wales. The legislation was passed by the UK Parliament earlier this year with cross-party support.
Chief Constable Matt Jukes said: “Police officers and staff do not go to work to be assaulted or threatened. Each and every one of these instances is totally unacceptable – and the impact is felt not only on those who are subject to these assaults, but also to officers’ colleagues and families.
“In South Wales Police we are committed to supporting officers who are assaulted while carrying out their duty, and that commitment includes a determination to ensure that those responsible for these offences are treated with the utmost seriousness.
“Police officers show incredible bravery every day, and their dedication helps keep our communities safe. It is appalling when officers are attacked or threatened while protecting others. Police officers and staff are people, and committed public servants – not punchbags.
“I feel it is important for me to write to every officer who is assaulted while on duty, and a common frustration I have encountered from those who have been assaulted is the perception that their case is not taken seriously enough. I hope this new legislation will help to change that.
“I remain extremely grateful to all of our officers in South Wales for their work, and I am pleased this new legislation will offer them extra protection from those who seek to do them harm.”
Steve Treharne, chair of the South Wales Police Federation, added: “One assault on an officer is one too many, and we welcome the change in the law which will mean tougher sentences for those who attack officers while on duty.
“If a police officer – or for that matter any other emergency services worker – is the victim of an assault, we would expect to see a sentence that sends a strong message.
“It should never be accepted that being assaulted should be seen as part and parcel of the job. An assault on a police officer is an assault against society and this needs to be reflected within the additional sentencing powers now afforded by this new legislation.
“Police officers are aware of the kind of job they signed up for, but there is never any excuse for anyone assaulting an emergency services worker – and we are pleased now to have added legal protection from those who do.
“I am inspired every day by colleagues who go above and beyond the call of duty, who put themselves in harm’s way, and who don’t think twice about stepping in to help and protect others. It is only right that police and other emergency services workers are fully protected by the law.
“The message is clear: there will be zero tolerance of anyone who attacks or threatens police officers on duty. Assaults are not simply a part of the job, and the change in the law will help to emphasise that.”