PFEW representatives and officers with MP Holly Lynch
Members of Parliament from all parties were given a presentation on the extent of assaults on police and the value of spit guards during a visit from the Police Federation of England and Wales today.
Our delegation was welcomed by Halifax MP Holly Lynch, a leading supporter of the PFEW's Protect the Protectors campaign, which is calling for tougher sentencing for those who assault police officers, as well as the roll out of essential kit like spit guards, body worn video and Taser.
A hard-hitting video was shown in which West Midlands officers Mike Bruce and Al O’Shea, who were also present, spoke about their harrowing experiences of being spat at. Mike had a false positive diagnosis for Hepatitis and Al was unable to visit a family member who was undergoing chemotherapy.
Ms Lynch will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill in the Commons next Tuesday, 7 February, calling for tougher sentencing for those who assault emergency service workers. It will also call for a change in the law to make those who spit at police (or other emergency workers) to provide a blood sample to reveal whether they are carrying harmful diseases.
MPs had a chance to handle and even try on a spit guard and were urged to encourage their local chief constables to roll out spit guards. They also heard from Che Donald, PFEW's lead on the issue, how the piece of kit protects officers and also prevents the need for additional force to restrain individuals. Nick Smart, Chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, led the PFEW presentation and representatives from the Met, Surrey and Sussex police federations were also present.
Mick Hume, Secretary of the PFEW Parliamentary Working Group, said: "It was a productive day and important in building momentum for the Protect the Protectors campaign we are launching next week. It was good to see a cross-section of MPs from across the House – about 25 to 30. We focused on spit guards but also talked about sentencing and the wider issues of assaults on blue light workers."