A NEW tougher legislation passed today is being celebrated by emergency services from across West Yorkshire.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill has received royal assent meaning it will pass into official law come November.

Tougher sentences will be enforced upon anyone who assaults an emergency services member of staff, with maximum terms doubling from six months to 12. 

Significantly, "emergency worker" now covers a wider spectrum.

There is already a specific offence protecting police officers, but anyone carrying out the work of an emergency service, including unpaid support volunteers, will be protected by the new bill.

During bonfire weekend last year, there were 18 reports of attacks on firefighters over two nights in West Yorkshire.

Chief Fire Officer, John Roberts, said that during the annual event there is usually a sharp rise in attacks on firefighters, often involving stones being thrown or even fireworks being used as weapons against them.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service ran a campaign called "More Than a Uniform" to highlight its plight.

Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said: "We are absolutely delighted to see this bill become an Act of Parliament, especially ahead of our busiest time of year over the bonfire period."

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, gave his support to the bill throughout the process.

He worked to increase parliamentary awareness as well as generating further traction by raising the "Protect the Protectors" campaign directly with the Home Office and Home Secretary.

Halifax MP, Holly Lynch, first introduced Protect the Protectors as a Ten Minute Rule Bill in 2016.

She said: "Whilst this has been a big team effort with a great deal of public and political support, it is rare for a backbench opposition MP to secure a law change, so I’m delighted that this campaign has been a success."

Dee Collins, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police said: "We hope that with the tougher sanctions now in place, the uniform will be seen as a deterrent and not a reason to attack the person wearing it."

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust also came out to express its delight at the decision.