Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill

It really is a sad state of affairs when it is necessary for politicians to introduce laws to further protect emergency service workers because statistics show that assaults on these workers have become more frequent in recent years.

However unfortunately it is necessary. Last week the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill had its third reading. The Bill proposes to introduce new offences protecting emergency service workers, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses; and the people assisting them.

Our emergency service workers here in Alyn and Deeside, and across the UK, do a brilliant job and their safety must be paramount. I believe it is right that emergency service workers receive better legal protection and that is why I spoke in support of the Bill in last week’s debate.

This Bill is necessary because of the scale of the problem facing emergency workers, who are increasingly exposed to widespread drunken physical, sexual and verbal abuse.

A number of constituents got in touch asking me to support the Bill, and to support an amendment which would give emergency service workers proper protection against sexual assault. I was pleased that the Bill – including the amendment – got through unopposed last Friday.

I believe the tougher sentences in the Bill will send a message that we will never accept that our emergency service workers can be assaulted while doing their job and that we will do everything in our power to protect them.

I used the debate to stress that it is not just the recorded cases of violence that are the issue. There needs to be a shift in attitude as there seems to be an acceptance that police officers are roughed up and pushed around in their normal line of duty, and therefore a lot of incidents are not even taken into account.

The government supporting this amendment means it will now become law. This will send a strong and clear message to would be attackers that their behaviour will not be tolerated and that they should expect to be punished with the full weight of the law.