Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Police Officer Safety

Part of Community Pharmacies – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 2nd November 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:51 pm, 2nd November 2016

This has been a lively debate on an important subject of great concern to us all. I have listened with great care to the thoughtful speeches made by Members on both sides of the House. Sadly, there is so little time for me to speak that I will not be able to address all the questions, but I will write to Members with answers.

I am sure that you will agree, Mr Deputy Speaker, that there has been one absolutely stand-out speech this afternoon, and that was the maiden speech of Tracy Brabin. We will never forget the contribution that Jo made; she was, indeed, a small woman with a big kick. I am sure that the people of Batley and Spen will be extremely well represented by the hon. Lady, as we have seen from her speech today. I join her in paying great respect to West Yorkshire police for how they have dealt with an incredibly difficult time for her community and the broader community of West Yorkshire.

I pay tribute to Holly Lynch for persuading her colleagues to secure this important debate and for enabling us all to highlight this important issue. Like the hon. Lady and many Members we have heard this afternoon, I have spent time on the beat with officers in my constituency. My sister was a police officer, and my nephew—I am proud of him—is now serving our community as a special. I know first hand of the dedication of police officers, keeping us safe, day in, day out, all around our country.

I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend David T. C. Davies for his long and distinguished service as a special, and to my hon. Friend Byron Davies for his more than 30 years of service as a police officer. I congratulate him on his recent election to the Home Affairs Committee, where I am sure that he will do an excellent job.

This afternoon, there have been calls for more and stronger sentencing. We agree that sentences must be tough. Although sentences are a matter for the courts, I want to assure all Members that sentencing guidelines already provide for assault on a police officer to be treated more severely. Assaults on police officers resulting in injuries will often result in a charge of actual bodily harm or an even more serious offence. In these cases, the fact that the victim is a police officer delivering this vital service is taken into account.

An assault can be treated more severely if the court so chooses, and there are offences relating specifically to police officers even where there is no physical harm. Right at the other end of the spectrum, in the most serious cases where an individual is convicted of the murder of a police officer in the course of his duty, a whole-life order will now be the sentencing starting point, thanks to the provisions introduced by the Government in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

As the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service stated, the Government will continue to provide the Sentencing Council with data and evidence on assaults on police officers as it reviews its guidelines. We must make sure that any assault on a police officer is treated with the gravity it deserves. As he said, we will continue to work with ministerial colleagues across the Government, such as the Solicitor General, to ensure that individuals are appropriately prosecuted to the full extent of the law.