POLITICS
20/10/2017 14:11 BST

Labour MP Reveals How She Feared She Would See Police Officer Beaten As 999 Worker Protection Bill Gets Green Light

Legislation proposed by Labour's Chris Bryant was given government backing.

A Labour MP revealed how she feared she would see a police officer attacked while out on the beat with him, as plans for a new law to protect 999 workers were given government backing.

A private members’ bill to afford better safeguarding to police officers, paramedics, firefighters and other emergency workers passed its second reading in the Commons on Friday.

The legislation, put forward by Labour’s Chris Bryant, looks set to become law after it received cross-party support. 

Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who has campaigned for improved measures alongside Bryant, revealed during the debate that she had feared for the safety of a police officer in her constituency when he was surrounded by an angry crowd after pulling over a driver.

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She said she had taken the opportunity to join the lone West Yorkshire officer on a Friday evening shift responding to 999 calls in Halifax, but the routine stop quickly escalated into a dangerous situation. 

“Those out on the streets took an instant and almost tribal dislike to the lone officer in their community,” she told the Commons.

“A small and increasingly agitated crowd began to gather and the situation very quickly escalated when further vehicles pulled up at speed and the people within them got out to confront him.”

Lynch said the officer was forced to lock her inside his patrol car for her own safety and draw his baton to defend himself.

She added: “I did not know if he had called for back-up and I did not know how to use the radio in the car.  

“I cannot stress enough the feeling of powerlessness and the fear that I might have to sit there in that police car and watch him take a beating, or worse.”

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Labour MP Chris Bryant has proposed new laws to protect emergency workers.

While back-up arrived and nobody was injured, Lynch said the incident demonstrated the dangers faced by frontline emergency service workers on a daily basis and the need for protections to be strengthened. 

The new legislation - dubbed the “Protect the Protectors Law” - will for the first time deem assaults against 999 workers exercising their duty “aggravated”.

Backed by trade unions, the law will also require suspects to provide samples of saliva and to make it an offence to refuse to provide such samples.

Conservative MP Tom Pursglove said it was vital for the government “to get this bill on the statute book” and that its cross-party support showed the Commons at its united best.

He added: ”This bill has done a pubic service in itself by bringing this problem to the fore and I think this issue shows this House at its best.

“All too often people see this House in the context of bickering, in an adversarial context they find disconcerting and distasteful. 

“Our emergency service workers are the best of British. Let’s make the law the very best it can be and back them to the hilt.”