Invitation to Participate in the Ministry of Justice Consultation

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Sentencing Council launched a consultation in April in relation to Assault Offences and as this consultation includes questions regarding Assaults on Emergency Workers we wanted to ensure NAHS Members had the opportunity to comment.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Sentencing Council has produced this consultation paper in order to seek views from as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of assault offences.

However, it is important to clarify that the Council is consulting on sentencing guidelines for these offences and not the legislation upon which such offences are based. The relevant legislation is a matter for Parliament and is, therefore, outside the scope of this exercise.

Through this consultation process, the Council is seeking views on:

  • The principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guidelines more or less serious;
  • The additional factors that should influence the sentence;
  • The approach taken to structuring the draft guidelines;
  • The types and lengths of sentence that should be passed;
    differences between the current guidelines and these new, revised guidelines; and
  • Anything else you think should be considered.
The link to the consultation is available here.  Please note that the consultation closes on 15th Sep 20.
The aspect of this Consultation that really stirred up our interest is the section on the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act and a press release by the MoJ on 13th July launching a further consultation on the sentencing for the specific Assaults on Emergency Workers offences.   Please see the introduction.  There is no specific link to this consultation, however and scope below.

In 2018 this Government changed the law (Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018) so that anyone found guilty of assaulting a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic faced a maximum of 12 months in prison. Judges must also consider tougher sentences for more serious offences – such as GBH or sexual assault –  if the victim was an emergency worker.

Now the Government is seeking views from stakeholders, including representative bodies from the emergency services and the judiciary, on whether the maximum penalty should be doubled to two years behind bars.

It delivers on a manifesto commitment to consult on tougher sentences, with ministers determined to recognise the debt of gratitude the public feels towards our emergency workers –  for the courage, commitment and dedication they show every day in carrying out their duties, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, said:

Being punched, kicked or spat at should never be part of the job for our valiant emergency workers who put their lives on the line to keep the public safe.

Now more than ever they must be able to do their extraordinary work without the fear of being attacked or assaulted, which is why we’re determined to look at how our laws can protect them further.
We will continue to do everything in our power to protect our police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics – and ensure those who seek to harm them feel the full force of the law.
Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, said:Our police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers go above and beyond every single day – running towards danger to protect us all.
They are our frontline heroes who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, and yet some despicable individuals still think it’s acceptable to attack, cough or spit at these courageous public servants.
This consultation sends a clear and simple message to the vile thugs who assault our emergency workers – you will not get away with such appalling behaviour and you will be subject to the force of the law.
This consultation will run for four weeks and, depending on the response to the consultation, legislation could be brought forward – which would see the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker doubled for the second time in two years.Assault can cover acts such as a push, shove or being spat at. When an emergency worker is seriously injured, prosecutions will take place under more serious offences such as ABH, GBH, or attempted murder that have far longer sentences.

The Consultation guidance and main document has also been uploaded to the NAHS Library and is available here.

Please take the time to take part in this vitally important consultation as those that assault an Emergency Worker and especially assaults on Healthcare professionals who are usually trying to care for them need to be addressed and shown consequence for their actions.

Please direct any questions to info@nahs.org.uk