All 1 Kemi Badenoch contributions to the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018

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Fri 20th Oct 2017

Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill Debate

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Department: Ministry of Justice

Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
2nd reading: House of Commons
Friday 20th October 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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I welcome this Bill and I am very happy to support the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) on this cross-party issue.

The nature of crime is changing. It is becoming more violent and more aggressive. Even as we see crime numbers fall, add the threat of terrorism, coupled with the sheer number of incidents involving mental health issues, and I can understand why police officers in my constituency feel besieged. My constituency is large, at about 400 square miles. That adds challenges, not just because of the size and scale of policing in our community, but because of the sense of isolation. Thirteen officers in Essex are assaulted every week. There were 666 reported cases between April 2016 and March 2017, but the real figure is far higher, because many cases go unreported. Police officers in my constituency tell me that they are scared and do not feel that the public understand or even care. This Bill sends a message that we do.

Earlier this month, officers in Saffron Walden responded to calls of road workers being threatened with a weapon. They pursued the suspect through difficult terrain. The man, heavily under the influence of drink and drugs, was eventually stopped, only to attack officers with a hammer. Officers present sustained injuries and, if not for their training and professionalism, could have been fatally injured. I am incredibly proud of Chief Inspector Carrington’s team, who put their own wellbeing at risk to keep us all safe.

I am also pleased with the Bill’s provisions for collecting samples from those offenders who spit at our emergency service workers. Spitting is a repulsive act and, when I was a London Assembly member, I worked extensively with the Met police on addressing the issue. I heard story after story of people who were worried about their health, not knowing what would happen as they waited for scary test results. Authorities that wish to use spit guards to protect their officers should be allowed to do so.

Emergency service workers are our first and last resort. These men and women dedicate their lives to us. They run towards danger as we run away. Police officers, in particular, are not typical employees. They accept no employment rights, which means they cannot go on strike. They have to rely on this place to ensure that they are provided with the support they deserve, which is why I support the Bill.