There have been a number of reports in the media of key workers being spat at or coughed on by people telling them that they have COVID-19. Due to this the Independent Sentencing Council are reviewing sentences for assaults on emergency workers.
An emergency worker is currently defined under s.3 Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 as a:
- Police officer
- Prison officer
- Person who works for the fire service
- NHS worker
Currently any person convicted of assaulting an emergency worker can receive a sentence up to 12 months in prison.
Last month the Independent Sentencing Council issued guidance that it would be treated as an aggravating feature if a person was convicted of an offence which involved the attempt to spread COVID-19.
Currently the Sentencing Guidelines Council are consulting on revised guidelines for all classifications of assault. They are proposing that if a person is for example convicted of a grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm offence against an emergency worker that this be treated again as an aggravating feature resulting in tougher sentences.
The definitive guidelines are likely to come into force sometime in 2021 with the consultation period open to 15 September 2020.