Sun, 21 July 2024

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The House Live All
By Ben Guerin
Press releases

EXCL Labour MP demands beefed up sexual assault protections for emergency workers after #MeToo

2 min read

A top Labour MP is urging ministers to stamp special sexual assault protections for emergency workers into UK law in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Former minister Chris Bryant wants to tweak his bill about 999 staff - which is on course to reach the statute book in the coming weeks - to beef up the proposed protections.

Currently the bill - which is sure to become law as it has the backing of the Government - will establish harsher sentences for assaults committed on police, firefighters, paramedics and nurses.

But in a last ditch bid to strengthen the legislation, Mr Bryant has tabled an amendment to increase sentences for sexual offences committed against emergency staff as well.

Mr Bryant told PoliticsHome's sister title the House Magazine, his bid was inspired by the #MeToo campaign set up after the sexual assault claims about Hollywood mogul Mr Weinstein emerged.

He said: "Emergency workers in the UK do an extraordinary job in often tough conditions, getting up each day not knowing what danger or trauma they may face. 

"What they should be assured of is that they should never be subject to sexual assault.

"This amendment will give protections to nurses, doctors, ambulance crews and others and ensure that anyone targeting emergency workers for sexual assault will face the toughest sanctions possible and send a message in no uncertain terms that attacks on them will not be tolerated."

He said it would "not be right" to take forward a bill without special protections over sexual offences, adding: "It would be a mistake to allow this loophole to continue."

The Rhondda MP said he was persuaded to act in the face of evidence that sexual assault is a growing problem for emergency workers - especially health professionals.

Campaign group Alcohol Concern has found between a third and half of all service people it surveyed had suffered sexual harassment or abuse at the hands of drunk members of the public.

His Private Members Bill will receive its final Commons stages on Friday next week, before it heads to the House of Lords.

PoliticsHome understands the Ministry of Justice is yet to make a decision on whether it will back the amendment to make sexual assaults against emergency workers 'aggravated' offences.

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