Crooks who attack Sunderland police officers should be instantly jailed, says commissioner candidate

Preparing for the Police Commissioner Elections Phil Butler (right) talks to shop owner Kevin Barlow of Barlows Fruiterers, in Sea Road, Fulwell, Sunderland. Kevin has been a recent victim of burglary at his shop.
Preparing for the Police Commissioner Elections Phil Butler (right) talks to shop owner Kevin Barlow of Barlows Fruiterers, in Sea Road, Fulwell, Sunderland. Kevin has been a recent victim of burglary at his shop.
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POLICE officers should be protected by “the full force of the law,” and those who attack them handed a mandatory prison sentence.

That is the view of one of the politicians for the powerful new role of Police and Crime Commissioner of Northumbria, which Wearsiders will go to the polls over next month.

Conservative candidate Phil Butler was due to meet Justice Secretary Chris Grayling at the party’s conference in Birmingham this week to discuss his proposals.

The call comes just weeks after the killing of two women police officers in Manchester.

Pc Nicola Hughes and Pc Fiona Bone died after a gun and grenade attack as they investigated a hoax burglary on September 18.

Pc Hughes lived in Diggle, Oldham with her mother.

Pc Bone lived in Sale with her partner Clare and her five-year-old daughter.

Mr Butler says all emergency service workers who “put their neck on the line” every day deserve to be protected.

He said: “I feel that in the current climate, particularly with the shooting of two police officers in Manchester, now is a very appropriate time to discuss the issue.

Police and other emergency service workers are in a “separate category” to ordinary members of the public, said Mr Butler, and the existing laws covering assault do not afford ample protection.

While he accepts the kind of offender likely to attack a police officer is unlikely to be cowed by the threat of a prison sentence, he believes such legislation is needed to show solidarity with the emergency services of the nation.

“It would send out an important message and increase the confidence of the emergency services, showing them that the law and the public are behind them,” he said.

“We need to protect those officers who put their neck on the line day in and day out.

“They should be protected by the full force of the law and offenders who are convicted of assault on an officer should receive a hefty automatic prison sentence.”

Mr Butler rejected the suggestion the call is a political one, timed to ride the recent wave of public support for officers following the killings in Manchester.

He said: “I was making this argument long before what happened in Manchester.

“My wife was severely assaulted and injured in the line of duty. Plainly, arming police officers is not going to happen any time soon so we need to use the law to protect them.

“I look forward to discussing this with the new Justice Minister.”

Also, standing in November’s Northumbria police commissioner election will be Vera Baird, of Labour, Liberal Democrat Peter Andras, and David Potts, representing UKIP.

Twitter: @sunechomark