WILTSHIRE Police Federation welcomed the government considering plans to double the maximum jail term for criminals who assault police officers and other emergency workers.

Two years ago, a previous law change doubled the maximum term from six months to 12 in England and Wales. Home secretary Priti Patel has launched a consultation on whether to double it again to two years.

Federation chairman Mark Andrews said: “It is excellent news to see we have a home secretary who appears to get the negative impact the assaults on our police officers have.

“For too long, politicians and the public have considered these types of attacks as merely part of our job and we have not received the support we need to do our jobs without the constant fear of violence.

“I do however worry the increase in sentencing, if it comes, although welcome, will not have any impact unless Sentencing Council encourage our judiciary to use these higher sentences. I am sick of these offenders being put in front of courts only to be let off with some stern words or a mediocre fine when a sob story is given over by the legal team.

“Tougher sentencing needs tougher judgements not weak decisions."

Ms Patel said doubling the jail time to two years would send a "clear and simple message" that "vile thugs" would not get away with such "appalling behaviour".

"Our police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers go above and beyond every single day - running towards danger to protect us all," she said.

"They are our frontline heroes who put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe, and yet some despicable individuals still think it's acceptable to attack, cough or spit at these courageous public servants."

John Apter, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The Police Federation has been relentless in pushing for an increase in maximum jail sentences for those who attack emergency workers.

“However, any further increases in sentencing could be meaningless without the full support of the Courts. This should include consistency of sentencing, which is not the case at this time.

“That is why the Police Federation has been working closely alongside the Sentencing Council to reform sentencing guidelines, bring these up to date, and make them fit for purpose.

“Assaulting a police officer is completely unacceptable and there must be a suitable deterrent. I accept there will always be times where an offender does not receive a custodial sentence. However, this must be the exception and not the norm.”