Police tsar urges support for blue-light protection

Mark Burns-Williamson
Mark Burns-Williamson

THE POLICE commissioner for West Yorkshire has written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd and all West Yorkshire’s MPs, calling on them to back the so-called Protect the Protectors bill.

Mark Burns-Williamson said the “brave men and women who keep us all safe” by working in the emergency services deserved to work in safety themselves.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill is read for the third time in the House of Commons today.

The third reading marks a significant milestone for the Private Member’s Bill, which will bring in harsher penalties against those convicted of attacks on emergency crews.

In his letter, Mr Burns-Williamson said he also urged them to back an amendment to the bill, tabled by Halifax MP Holly Lynch, which asks for sexual assault to be added to the list of assaults in the Bill.

He said: “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.”

West Yorkshire’s blue-light services are standing together in support of the proposed new laws to give police, firefighters and paramedics better protection against attacks while on duty.

Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been campaigning hard to raise awareness of what our emergency crews have to face when trying to protect people from harm.

“They are pelted with stones and sometimes bricks, and over the bonfire period we see mindless people using fireworks as weapons against them – it is disgusting behaviour and it needs to stop.”

Chief Constable Dee Collins, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Being spat at, wrestled, hit and kicked should not be part of the day job. The uniform shouldn’t be seen as a reason to attack someone but, quite the opposite, it should be a reason not to.”

Stephen Segasby, deputy director of operations at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, added: “There is never an excuse for abusing the people who work so hard to help others in times of need.”