The NHS Security Management Service (SMS) yesterday (Tuesday 23 February 2010) welcomed revisions to the sixth edition of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which underscore the public interest in prosecuting all those who attack health workers.
Issued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Code gives guidance to prosecutors on the general principles to be applied when making decisions about prosecutions. Previously, the Code gave limited specific examples of victims of offences who "served the public" – citing the police, prison officers and nurses.
These examples have been broadened specifically to include "members of the emergency services" and "a health or social welfare professional", among others.
Richard Hampton, Head of the NHS SMS, said: "This effectively signals to prosecutors across England and Wales that an offence against anybody providing NHS services, including ambulance workers, is to be viewed with particular concern. This will in time lead to more prosecutions of offences against NHS staff, and in turn more convictions."
With regard to mentally disordered offenders, whose state of health can already be taken into account in their favour, new regard is given to safeguarding "those providing care services to such persons".
Mr Hampton continued: "This is again good news for NHS workers, especially those in mental health and learning disability settings – who suffer most of the reported assaults."
He added: "The NHS SMS continues to encourage NHS bodies to report all assaults against their staff and to press for prosecution.
"The new Code bolsters the work of our Legal Protection Unit, which works with the police and CPS to increase the prosecution rate of those who assault people who work in the NHS. It is pleasing to see that our extensive input to the consultations on the new Code appears to have been taken onboard."
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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"NHS organisations have in the past been reluctant to report matters to the police and so the severity of the problem has not been recognised. This leads staff to believe that nothing can help them and that they have to endure abuse. This strengthened guidance for the CPS is very welcome and
will reinforce the need for protection of NHS staff" – Name and address withheld
"Long, long overdue" – Name and address withheld