(2 years, 3 months ago)Read Full debate
I thank my hon. Friend for those comments. She makes her point extremely well. It is worth saying that the Bill is supported not only by the Royal College of Nursing and all the trade unions that represent staff in these different lines of work, but by the Metropolitan police, the Police Federation and nearly every part of civil society. I hope we do not end up with a vote later today, but the lack of a vote will not show a lack of assent by this House. Indeed, I think it will show the unanimous assent of the House to change the law in this regard.
It is a depressing fact that the number of assaults on emergency workers has dramatically increased in recent years. The Home Office’s own figures—these are frightening—suggest that there were 24,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales in 2016-17. The Police Federation reckons that there is an unarmed assault on a police officer every four minutes, and that is even without including police community support officers. The Ministry of Justice says that there were 7,159 assaults on prison officers last year—up a third on the previous year.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why I pay enormous tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Holly Lynch), who, with the Police Federation, has led the charge on this issue and brought it to the House. I feel as if I am merely carrying the baton that she elegantly shaped.
Figures from NHS Protect are equally disturbing. There were 59,794 attacks on NHS staff in 2011-12. That is bad enough, but the figure increased to 70,555 by 2015-16. Yet the number of criminal sanctions for those assaults has actually fallen in that time, from 1,380 to 1,250. That is a lot of people who are not seeing justice.