A NEW law introducing mandatory life sentences for those who kill an emergency worker in the course of duty has been welcomed by the region’s ambulance service.
West Midlands Ambulance Service has praised Harper’s Law following an announcement by the Government which aims to implement the change early next year.
The law comes after the death of PC Andrew Harper in 2019. PC Harper died when he was dragged by a getaway car following a robbery. Three teenagers were sentenced to between 13 and 16 years imprisonment for manslaughter. But the sentencing has been fiercely criticised by the public and PC Harper’s family who have since campaigned tirelessly for tougher punishments for those who kill emergency workers.
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 undertaking a three-month trial to examine the viability of providing stab proof vests to staff.
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.”