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Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter)

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Snippet Contents:

There is specific legislation in place to deal with assaults of, or threats to, emergency workers in front line positions, which is contained in section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) 1994 Act (as amended by section 185 Criminal Justice Act 2006).
Section 19 provides that any person who assaults or threatens to assault a person providing medical services at or in a hospital or a peace officer acting in the execution of their duty is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or both or on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or to both.
A peace officer refers to a member of the Garda Síochána, a prison officer, a member of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel or a member of the Defence Forces. This offence also applies to assaults or threats to assault in relation to a person assisting a person providing medical services or a person acting to assist a peace officer. Section 19 also provides for an offence of resisting or wilfully obstructing or impeding a person providing medical services, a peace officer or a person assisting them. In this regard an offender is liable on summary conviction to a fine or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both.
The offences in section 19 were extended to hospital, ambulance and fire brigade personnel by means of section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in order to address the problem of assaults and obstruction of personnel engaged in providing emergency services, including problems relating to assaults in hospitals, particularly in Accident and Emergency departments.
In addition, in the case of an assault causing serious harm against emergency workers, an offender can be prosecuted under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 and could be subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.