UUP man backs new jail law for police attackers

A missile is thrown during trouble in Lurgan on March 28, during which police came under attack
A missile is thrown during trouble in Lurgan on March 28, during which police came under attack

A unionist MLA has come out in support of the idea that anyone who assaults a police officer should recieve an automatic jail term.

The notion had been suggested by the Police Federation on Wednesday, and yesterday the UUP’s Doug Beattie voiced his backing for enshrining the suggestion in law.

The federation, which has around 6,400 members across all ranks of the PSNI, had made the suggestion as part of its response to the consultation on the draft framework for the Programme for Government – the blueprint by which Sinn Fein and the DUP intend to govern the Province.

Federation leader Mark Lindsay then revealed the idea in an interview with the BBC, published on Wednesday.

On Thursday Doug Beattie, a decorated ex-oldier and now MLA for Upper Bann, said in a statement: “Unlike the rest of the UK, we do not have complete acceptance of policing by consent in Northern Ireland.”

He said that Northern Irish police are in a “unique” position as compared with other UK forces, and face “extreme danger” when carrying out their jobs.

He said “it is clear that the present fines and non-custodial sentences are wholly ineffective as a deterrent and to prevent the undermining of our police service”.