West Yorkshire MP Philip Davies demands tougher sentences for those who attack police
A total of nearly 2,000 assaults on West Yorkshire police officers in just one year has prompted an MP to demand clearer sentencing guidelines for attacks on those on the frontline.
Shipley MP Philip Davies has written to the Sentencing Council after discovering there were 1,897 assaults against police officers in West Yorkshire in the 12 months to April this year - but magistrates told him they were not sure of their powers in punishing perpetrators.
Conservative Mr Davies said: “It is an utter outrage that each day five police officers across the county are being assaulted when they are trying to keep our families and communities safe.
“There has been an alarming rise in the number of attacks on public sector workers generally and we must ensure that those responsible feel the full force of the law.
“We need to show police officers we are on their side. They have a very hard job and at times a dangerous job. One attack on an officer in a year is one too many, to have nearly 2,000 incidents recorded is disgraceful.”
Of the attacks in West Yorkshire more than a quarter - 480 - left an officer injured.
The maximum sentence for attacks on emergency services workers was upped from six to 12 months last year, after two years of campaigning by Halifax MP Holly Lynch.
But West Yorkshire Police Federation previously said the change was not having the desired effect.
Federation chairman Brian Booth said in June: “Let’s stop talking about a maximum 12 month sentence for those who attack our officers and let’s start talking about a minimum sentence, in Australia I believe that is six months."
Mr Davies wants to see the maximum sentence double again to two years.
Mr Davies said: “The powers are there to sentence someone to a year in prison but magistrates need to know what they can do and need clear guidelines right now to ensure the will of Parliament is being delivered in even this small way. Read more: Yorkshire MP Philip Davies wants to change law so females can inherit hereditary titles
“While I welcomed the doubling of the sentence available I want it doubled again and for a two year prison term to be handed down. I previously tried to change the law in Parliament but I was not successful. Not many MPs would back me.
“I absolutely believe it to be right and I make no apology for being on the side of what is right versus what is the consensus of the day.
“The figures I have been given are extremely disturbing and I will also be speaking with other MPs, yet again, and urging them to get behind my call to increase sentencing and show support for their police officers.”
Across England and Wales there were 31,000 assaults in 2018/19 of which 10,400 resulted in injury.
It means there were around 26 assaults for every 100 officers on duty in that year based on full time-equivalent officers.
Writing in this newspaper Home Secretary Priti Patel said the "utterly appalling" rise in attacks on police officers "shows that we need a strong deterrent to make these thugs think twice".
She said: "The Assaults on Emergency Workers Act was a start, but in its first six weeks only one in four people convicted of the new offence were jailed – and the average sentence was just over two months. I know the strength of these punishments is a matter of concern for you all, and I share these concerns.
"The epidemic of attacks demands urgent action, so I’m working with the Lord Chancellor to ensure they are handled with appropriate severity by the whole criminal justice system."
Across West Yorkshire the ratio was higher at 38 per 100 officers on duty.