This article appeared as a column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 17th February 2017.
No one should have to endure being attacked, spat at or abused as they go about their job.
But it’s even more unacceptable when the targets of that abuse are the police and emergency services whose work involves serving the public and saving people’s lives.
Did you know that attacks on police in Barnsley have risen sharply? Up from 27 in 2015 to 31 assaults in just the first nine months of 2016.
I have always worked hard to support our local police. Whether that's voting against cuts to police numbers in Parliament or volunteering to join them on shift locally. Recently I was out and about with police in Kendray, talking to residents about efforts to crack down on anti-social behaviour.
So now I'm supporting the Police Federation’s 'Protector the Protectors' campaign after shocking national figures revealed an officer is assaulted every four minutes.
We must do more to deter the tiny minority of thugs who think it’s okay to attack members of the emergency services.
That’s why I was glad to support fellow Labour MP Holly Lynch last week by co-sponsoring a Bill in Parliament. The Bill proposes new laws to bring in much tougher sentences for people convicted of attacking a police officer, firefighter, doctor, paramedic or nurse whilst they go about doing their job.
Anyone who assaults an emergency services worker should be punished by tougher sentences, particularly repeat offenders.
The new law would also tackle the disgusting and growing problem of offenders who spit at police and others from the emergency services. It would become a specific offence and perpetrators would be forced to have a blood test to check for any infection risks.
The dedicated men and women of our emergency services frequently go above and beyond their duties to look after us. It's time we looked after them a bit better. I hope the Government will back the campaign.