26 April 2017
Calls for tougher sentences for those who assault emergency service workers and other public service officers has had another boost from the Prison Officers’ Association (POA).
It follows successful talks between Che Donald, from PFEW’s national board, and Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the POA (pictured right) about the aims and objectives of the Protect the Protectors campaign, which takes as a starting point the principle that being assaulted should never be acceptable or considered as ‘just part of the job’.
The campaign has been building momentum since its launch at Parliament in February. Halifax MP Holly Lynch submitted a Ten Minute Rule Bill on our behalf which made a strong case for new legislation. Our objectives are: to more accurately record assaults; to improve welfare support for officers; to make it a specific offence for those who spit at emergency service workers to refuse to provide a blood sample that could determine health risks.
In a prison setting prison officers hold an equivalent role and face similar risks of being assaulted in the course of their duties as police officers. According to the POA around 16 prison officers are assaulted every day. A police officer is assaulted every four minutes in England and Wales according to latest data, and actual numbers may be higher as incidents are still under reported.
Che Donald, PFEW, said: “I am delighted that the POA has decided to join us to help push for legislative change. Having a united position strengthens our message that emergency service workers feel vulnerable and let down.
“Both our members and those of the POA deserve better protection. The campaign is gathering momentum – we already have support from the British Transport Police Federation and we hope to garner further support from other representative bodies.”
Steve Gillan, POA, said: “Protect the Protectors is vital for all emergency services due to the assaults we are seeing on our members respectively and which are going unpunished by the courts. Therefore we are delighted to partner with PFEW on this important campaign and effectively right a wrong.
“There are 16 assaults on prison officers every day – a horrendous number. We have 30% less prison officer grades since 2010 and a rising prison population.
“When a prison officer is assaulted, often the Crown Prosecution Service determines it is ‘not in the public interest to prosecute’ – because prisoners are already serving a sentence. This is ludicrous and undermines any deterrent – assault is assault, whether they are serving a life sentence or three months.”
More information on our Protect the Protectors campaign