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The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill is a short, four-clause private member’s bill that would strengthen the sanctions available to courts to punish individuals who assault emergency workers. It was introduced in the House of Commons by Chris Bryant (Labour MP for Rhondda) and received cross-party support during its passage through the Commons, including from the Government. The Bill is sponsored by Baroness Donaghy (Labour) in the House of Lords, and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 29 June 2018.

The Bill would introduce a new offence of common assault, or battery, against an emergency worker. This new offence would be triable summarily in the magistrates’ court, or on indictment in the Crown Court (trial by jury). The Bill would provide for the offence to be punishable on conviction by a term of imprisonment for up to six months in the magistrates’ court, twelve months in the Crown Court, and/or a fine in either court. The Bill would also place a duty on courts to consider more serious assaults committed against emergency workers, including actual and grievous bodily harm, as an aggravated assault on sentencing. The Bill defines an ‘emergency worker’ to include individuals employed or engaged as police constables; prison officers or prison custody officers; fire, search and/or rescue staff; or persons providing or supporting the provision of NHS health services.

The Bill was amended during its passage through the House of Commons at both committee and report stages. Changes included widening the scope of ‘emergency worker’ to encompass prisoner custody officers and all those who provide or support the provision of NHS health services; the addition of text to explicitly make the sexual assault of an emergency worker an aggravating factor in sentencing; and the removal of clauses that were in the Bill (as introduced) concerning the taking of intimate and non-intimate samples—such as blood and saliva—from perpetrators of assaults.


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