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Important law has been brought in to 'protect the protectors'

Column by Grantham district and county councillor Ray Wootten

The Covid-19 emergency has brought out the best in our communities with citizens and organisations alike, prepared to go that extra mile to protect the NHS and other front line services.

The sacrifice and loss of frontline workers, particularly within the NHS, brings home the heartbreaking reality of what a caring society we are, where duty becomes before one's own safety.

Coun Ray Wootten (10453756)
Coun Ray Wootten (10453756)

All emergency services from health care workers in hospitals and care homes, key workers from shop assistants to public transport staff have carried on regardless, keeping the country going.

In these worrying times it becomes clear how indebted we are to the workforce from other countries who have chosen to live and work here in Great Britain, especially in the NHS and within food production. Regardless of culture or religion, communities have been working together side by side for the good of the vulnerable and those in need.

Sadly there is another element of society with the event of the coronavirus who think it’s a defence to use it to violate police by spitting at, or coughing, in the face of officers.

This behaviour even transcends to attacking other members of the emergency services whereby paramedics and ambulance staff along with police and fire officers are often subject to physical abuse, being attacked in the line of duty.

A lack of respect for law and authority is something police officers come to expect and deal with everyday.

The assaults on emergency workers (offences) Act 2018 was introduced in November 2018 and carries a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment and or an unlimited fine, where assault or battery is committed against an emergency worker.

Emergency workers include police and prison officers, firefighters, NHS staff and search and rescue staff.

This new legislation was secured after a long campaign by police to “Protect the Protectors”. This was a much needed change in the Law.

The Crown Prosecution Service should charge those who assault our emergency workers on every occasion and, in addition we need magistrates and the judiciary to send a clear message to offenders, that such behaviour won’t be tolerated and custodial sentences should be sanctioned.

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