A NEW law to offer more protection to emergency service workers has been welcomed.

John Campion, police and crime commissioner for West Mercia, has hailed the change in legislation, which makes certain offences aggravated when committed against emergency workers, giving courts the power to double the maximum prison sentence for an assault from six to 12 months.

Mr Campion, who has campaigned for more to be done at a national level to tackle violence against the police, has backed the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill throughout its passage through parliament.

He said: “I have campaigned long and hard for these changes to happen, and today’s law change is a mammoth step forward for all emergency workers. I am pleased to see the government taking this seriously. Not only will it protect police officers and other emergency workers, but it will act as a deterrent for those who would commit these offences.

“We mustn’t forget that behind the badge, police officers and other emergency workers are ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs. Our communities have an important role to play in ensuring this is recognised and we treat emergency workers with the respect they deserve. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this legislation change will have.”

West Mercia Police Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Wessell said: "Our men and women are out in our communities day and night, often dealing with very difficult and challenging situations and putting themselves in harm’s way.

“They certainly do not deserve to be subject to abuse, threats or assaults and I very much welcome the additional protection that this new bill gives them.

"I can assure them, and anyone who feels it acceptable to behave in this manner towards our officers, that all such incidents are taken extremely seriously and are fully investigated so that appropriate action can be taken."

In West Mercia, there have been 162 violent incidents against officers and staff in the last three months, equating to almost two every day.