HC Deb 26 June 2003 vol 407 c921W
Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he plans to extend the legal protection afforded to police officers assaulted in the workplace to other public sector workers: [120649]

(2) if he plans to establish a new offence of assaulting a public sector worker in the course of their duty; and if he will make a statement. [120650]

Paul Goggins

Assaulting a public sector worker in the course of his or her duty is an extremely serious matter, as reflected in guidelines issued by the Magistrates' Association. Magistrates court guidelines already make clear that when an assault is against a "victim serving the public", it should be considered as an aggravating factor. The Criminal Justice Bill contains provisions on sentencing and sets up a new Sentencing Guidelines Council, charged with drafting and distributing a new set of consolidated sentencing guidelines applicable across all criminal courts. The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure consistency and to require the courts to take account of all the relevant aggravating or mitigating features. The guidelines could, and we expect will, refer explicitly to the fact that if a victim was at the time of the offence working with the public, it should be treated as an aggravating feature of the crime. We have no current plans to introduce specific offences for attacks on public sector workers.

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