Murray MacGregor – Wednesday 24th November 2021 – 9.55am.
West Midlands Ambulance Service is welcoming the Government’s announcement that it intends to introduce Harper’s Law, which will see the introduction of mandatory life sentences for those who kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.
Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “Our ambulance crews go above and beyond every single day, often in very difficult circumstances, but the appalling reality is that on average, at least one member of our staff is physical assaulted every single day and last year, two were stabbed.
“All too often our staff are left feeling let down by the justice system when people convicted of assaulting them receive disappointingly light sentences, so anything that provides our staff with more protection can only be a good thing.
“It is imperative that the wider judiciary be more consistent in applying tougher sentences to perpetrators who are convicted of any form of violence, aggression or abuse towards our staff, not just those that result in a death.
“Violence and aggression towards anyone is unacceptable, but emergency services workers need particular additional protection due to the nature of their work on the frontline”
Thanks to funding from NHS England, the Trust started rolling out the use of body worn cameras for all frontline staff in October. The cameras do not record all of the time but are switched on when staff become concerned for their safety.
The Trust is also undertaking a three-month trial to examine the viability of providing stab proof vests to staff. The trial is taking place at Willenhall Hub with 22 volunteers taking part.
Willenhall-based paramedic Deena Evans was one of those stabbed last year and is taking part in the trial. She said: “It’s a shame it’s come to this, but I couldn’t be more relieved! I feel less anxious about working frontline shifts wearing it.”
Note to Editors
The change in law extends mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty unless there are truly exceptional circumstances. Courts must already impose life sentences for murder. The change in law follows the tireless campaigning of PC Andrew Harper’s family. PC Harper, died in 2019 while investigating a robbery. The Government says it hopes the change to the law will be made as soon as possible.
Each volunteer taking part in the stab vest trial will complete a questionnaire at the end of the period trial and the results will be evaluated and presented to the Trust Board.