A 17-YEAR-OLD girl is the first in Stroud to be charged with a new offence designed to crack down on attacks on police.

The girl was arrested on Monday afternoon after two officers attended a concern-for-welfare call-out in Wallbridge.

Police say that during the assault, which took place on the corner of the Travis Perkin building near the canal at 3.30pm, a female officer was punched in the head and her hair was pulled.

A male officer was bitten and spat at.

One witness who was at the scene said: “All of a sudden I heard someone screaming like a banshee.”

The girl has now been charged with two counts of assault by beating of an emergency worker,  making her the first, in Stroud at least, to face the prospect of tougher punishments for such an attack. Now on bail, she will appear in Cheltenham Youth Court on Friday, December 21.

Despite the charge, police are still appealing for the number of people at the scene to provide witness testimony.

Anyone who has not spoken to police yet is urged to come forward on 101 and quote incident 257 of December 3.

Maximum sentences for those assaulting an emergency worker, including police officers but also paramedics and firefighters, were doubled earlier in the year.

A six-month maximum sentence for common assault has been upped to a year for the new crime created by the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, which was given royal assent in September and came into force on November 14.

The law also means courts must treat attacks on emergency workers as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

There were around 26,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales in 2017/18, a rise from 24,000 the previous year.

Asked of the impact of assaults on members of the force, a spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “We can’t comment in detail on this case as a person has now been charged.

“However, any attack on our officers is a concern and highlights the potential dangers of the job.

“Following the incident we ensured the officers were given the support needed and, thankfully, they did not require hospital treatment.

“We would now just ask anyone in the area at the time who saw something to call us if they have not done so already.”

Stroud MP David Drew voted for the new law, which had been brought by fellow Labour MP Chris Bryant. 

Ahead of the vote he had told the SNJ: “This is an important bill which protects those working for the public in the most difficult of situations.”

Attacks on ambulance staff are also covered by the new legislation.

Union GMB had conducted research before laws were toughened showing that only one out of 294 reports of physical assaults in south west England resulted in a custodial sentence between 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.