West Yorkshire’s MPs are being urged to join together and show their support for a Bill aimed at protecting emergency services from attacks (25 April 2018)

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson has written to the Home Secretary and all West Yorkshire's MPs, in a letter to ask that they show their full support for the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, due to have its third reading on Friday. (27 Apr)

Mr Burns-Williamson, who has been a vocal supporter of the campaigns, has also asked fellow politicians to support the amendment tabled by Holly Lynch MP and Chris Bryant MP, for sexual assault to be added to the list of assaults in the Bill.

In his letter, which has also gone to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I hope that the amendment will receive sufficient cross-party support, so that emergency workers are assured of the maximum protection in law against the threat of sexual assault.

"The brave women and men who keep us all safe and protect us from harm, must be able to work in safety themselves; those who cause them harm must be deterred and punished accordingly.

"However, we are now disappointed to learn that the Bill does not include sexual assault in the list of offences that would be covered by the proposed legislation. This omission is particularly shocking, given the huge push that has taken place over recent years, both nationally and globally, to rid workplaces of sexual harassment and assault.

"Therefore, we are writing to express our support for the amendment tabled by Holly Lynch MP and Chris Bryant MP, for sexual assault to be added to the list of assaults in the Bill."

As it stands, the Bill would make it an aggravated offence to assault emergency service workers.

It calls for tougher sentences for attacks on emergency workers, increasing the maximum sentence for common assault from six months to a year if staff are attacked while on duty.

As well as tougher sentences, it would also force anyone who bites, spits at or attacks an emergency service worker to undergo blood and / or saliva tests.

Mr Burns-Williamson, who chairs of the Tri-Services Collaboration Board, made up of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, the Ambulance Service and West Yorkshire Police, also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the emergency services earlier this year to ensure attacks on firefighters were dealt with to ensure the best possible chance of prosecution.

"Perpetrators need to consider the recklessness of their actions and know that they will rightly face strong action and possible prosecution and the MOU goes a long way to ensuring this happens," he added.

"However, we all need to stand together and show support for our emergency workers who face danger daily, while most people run away from it, they demonstrate their bravery time and again by walking towards it."

Mr Burns-Williamson will also be supporting a Thunderclap on social media on Thursday (APR 26) put together by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to rally support for the Bill.

For more information and to support visit https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/69555-protect-the-protectors

To view the Bill visit: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0126/cbill_2017-20190126_en_2.htm#pb1-l1g2

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