A brutal attack on two paramedics treating an unconscious patient in Cookstown has prompted calls by a Dungannon politician for a new zero-tolerance policy from the courts.
DUP peer Maurice Morrow is to table an amendment to the forthcoming Justice Bill calling for all members of emergency services who are subjected to assault in the course of duty to be afforded equal status in justice with the police.
Terming this the “Blue Light Amendment”, Lord Morrow maintains it is vital the current legislation, which presently applies only to police, is extended to ensure all emergency service staff are protected in law by a stand-alone offence.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said he was prompted into action by an attack in Cookstown, during which two paramedics were attacked whilst tending to an unconscious patient in their ambulance.
He went on to say: “As matters currently stand a specific charge exits in respect of assaults on police officers or designated police staff. I want to see that widened to cover all emergency response staff.
“Any attack on the emergency services should be a stand-alone offence with sentencing tailored accordingly. Currently only the police have that status and other members of the emergency services who become victims are simply listed as an individual.
“Whilst courts do take a dim view of such attacks it is strange to have only the police as a stand–alone grouping for a specific charge. All three wear a uniform whilst on duty so there is no mistaking their role in the community.
“All face challenging behaviour and circumstances, not to mention risking their lives in the course of their work, and therefore should be afforded the protection of the law in doing so.
“This is a particularly relevant in an adverse situation and to enforce a zero tolerance policy of such abuse.”