Assaults on police and emergency service workers have nearly doubled despite tougher sentences, according to new research. The number of assaults on police has increased from 23,000 to more than 40,000 since ministers quadrupled the maximum sentence from six months in jail to two years for assaulting an emergency worker.
Research by the charity Transform Justice suggested tougher sentences are failing to deter assaults, with increasing numbers apparently committed by people with mental health conditions. The data, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, showed that two-thirds of those imprisoned for assaults on PCs and emergency workers reoffended in 2020, the same rate as before the introduction of the tougher laws. It also found that as many as three-quarters of those being prosecuted are suffering from mental ill health, with official watchdogs warning that courts are being “choked up” with minor assaults at the expense of more serious cases, like rape. Andrew Cayley, chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Inspectorate, said increasing the sentences had led to more cases being elevated to the crown courts, which are already suffering record backlogs following the pandemic and barristers’ strike.