PFEW welcomes ‘important changes’ in new laws to better protect police officers

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has welcomed the “important changes” introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which gets its first reading in Parliament today (March 10).

Mar 10, 2021
By Paul Jacques
John Apter

The introduction of a Police Covenant in law, doubling the maximum sentences for those convicted of assaulting emergency workers, and better protection for police drivers were among a raft of new measures included in the Bill. It also clears the way for Special Constables to formally join the PFEW after years of campaigning.

PFEW national chair John Apter said: “This Bill contains a number of important changes we have been campaigning for over many years to give greater protection to police officers, and recognise the unpredictable, dangerous and demanding job they do.

“This is the first step to bring these changes into law; we must grab this opportunity and ensure the Bill brings about a positive, meaningful and tangible difference for our colleagues.”

The creation of a Police Covenant to ensure the welfare of officers, police staff and their families is “enshrined in law” follows extensive campaigning by PFEW.

Alongside this, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill legislates to double the maximum sentences for those convicted of assaulting emergency workers in England and Wales to two years.

It also gives better protection to police officers involved in driving incidents, with the introduction of a new test to assess the standard of driving following a collision. The test permits courts to judge the standard against a ‘competent and careful peer’ with the same training, rather than with a member of the public.

Mr Apter said: “Our Protect the Protectors’ campaign brought about the original Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, which saw the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker increase from six to 12 months.

“It is absolutely the right decision to see the maximum sentence being doubled, as the original tariff has proved completely ineffective. However, this increase in sentencing will mean nothing unless the sentencing guidelines are updated and made fit for purpose.

“This Bill also means that Special Constables will now get the same legal protection and support as regular officers as members of the Police Federation. As a former Special myself, this is something I have been very passionate about. This is only right, Specials carry a warrant card and carry the same risk as regular officers, I’m proud that the Federation is opening its doors to them as members.”

Mr Apter added: “For almost a decade, the Federation has been campaigning to bring about a positive change in the law to better protect police drivers. The new test will ensure my colleagues are more fairly treated in the eyes of the law. This change is much needed and long overdue.”

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