‘We need to change law’ to better protect police, Home Secretary says

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said legal changes are required to better protect police, it has been reported.

Ms Patel suggested stronger penalties for those who assaulted officers as she launched a consultation on a new Police Covenant.

“We have to be very clear – to hurt an officer is simply unacceptable and if we have to change our laws to reflect that, we will,” Ms Patel told the Daily Express.

The Witham MP said she was motivated for change after Thames Valley Pc Andrew Harper was killed last year while responding to a burglary.

“What happened to Pc Harper opened the gateway for me to learn much more about police, their health and wellbeing, help and support and what there is and what there isn’t,” Ms Patel said.

“This covenant is about what there is not and correcting the wrong in terms of the lack of support that exists for our officers.”

From the middle of November 2018, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act doubled the previous maximum sentence to 12 months in jail for such offences.

But official figures released last week showed just 13% of criminals who attack police and emergency workers are being sent to jail with more being let off with a fine.

The average time behind bars was never longer than three months, according to data covering the first 11 months since new sentencing laws for attacks on emergency workers were introduced.

The Police Federation of England and Wales has long campaigned for tougher punishments for those who attack its members, with chairman John Apter telling the Express that Ms Patel’s announcement was welcome.

The announcement comes as the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners hold a joint summit on Wednesday.