On 13 September 2018, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 received Royal Assent, increasing the maximum sentence for low level assaults committed against an emergency worker from six months to 12 months custody in the Magistrates Court. It is anticipated that this will be passed into law in the coming months once Section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 has been enacted.
Common assault and battery cases (including assaulting a police officer) have always carried the same maximum sentence of six months and these types of cases have always been tried in the Magistrates Court. Whilst the maximum sentence will be increased for any assault on an emergency worker, these types of cases will still be tried and concluded in the Magistrates Court.
The meaning of an emergency worker is detailed in Section 3 (1) of the act, but in summary includes a police officer, a prison officer, a police detention officer, a member of the NHS or a fire fighter carrying out their functions in work time.
Any offences of this type committed before the enactment will still carry a maximum sentence of six months.
Section 2(3) of the act also makes a provision for offences against an emergency worker in more serious offences (actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, sexual offences, manslaughter, and kidnap to name a few) to be treated as an aggravated offence and the court must state in open court that the offence is so aggravated. This is likely to result in increased sentences being passed.
If you have been charged with this type of offence it is important that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Contact our specialist team on 0175 321 6399.