Beattie backs Police Federation calls for custodial sentences for anyone who assaults a police officer

Ulster Unionist Justice Spokesperson Doug Beattie MC MLA has given his support to calls by the Police Federation to introduce legislation to make assaulting a police officer an offence that carries a mandatory custodial sentence.

Doug Beattie said:

“To some casual onlookers an assault on a police officer undertaking their duties is a daily part of life which those who join the PSNI should simply accept as a hazard of the job. However, although becoming a police officer does subject you to a high level of personal violence, this should NEVER be accepted as normal. Any attack on a public servant, be that a nurse, teacher, paramedic or firefighter is abhorrent, but it is our police service that are called to assist with all such incidents and more besides, putting them very much in the firing line.

“Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, we do not have complete acceptance of policing by consent in Northern Ireland. It is the role of the police service to protect life and property and in doing so they put themselves in extreme danger. This is unique in terms of policing in the United Kingdom and as such must be viewed in a unique way. With nearly fifty attacks a month on police officers it is clear that the present fines and non-custodial sentences are wholly ineffective as a deterrent and to prevent the undermining of our police service and to show support for those who keep us safe, it is important we explore other avenues.

“I therefore agree with and support the Northern Ireland Police Federation in its call for legislation to make an assault on a police officer an offence that carries a mandatory custodial sentence. I call on the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward legislation at the earliest opportunity and with a meeting previously organised between the Ulster Unionist Party and the Justice Minister in late August, I will be asking her to explore how this can be delivered.”

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