Legislation that will make it a specific criminal offence to assault or obstruct an emergency services worker continues to make its way through parliament.
The Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Bill – a private members’ Bill introduced by Labour MP Alan Williams – has survived committee stage, where all prospective legislation is scrutinised, and is now scheduled to be read a third time next month.
The Bill essentially mirrors the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act introduced by the Scottish Parliament last May.
The legislation would mean that people who “obstruct or hinder” workers such as firefighters, ambulance staff, nurses and coastguards could face up to a year in prison and a £5,000 fine.
More serious assaults will continue to be prosecuted under the common law.
Figures from the annual NHS staff survey show one in four NHS workers said they had encountered bullying, harassment or abuse from patients or their relatives.
Of the respondents, 12% said they had experienced physical violence.
Another private members’ Bill that would make it compulsory for employers to show the combined value of salary and pension rights in job advertisements has lapsed and is unlikely to progress.