Assaulting an emergency worker

The High Court continues to draw a distinction between ‘assault on an emergency worker exercising a function as an emergency worker’ (section 1 of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018), compared with the now almost redundant offence of ‘assaulting a police officer who is acting in the execution of their duty’ (section 89 of the Police Act 1996).

Adrian Lower

Adrian Lower

Provided that the action of the officer is taken within the broad functions of an officer, acting reasonably, in good faith and in accordance with other public law duties, the officer does not have to be exercising a specific police power in order to be acting as an emergency worker. So touching a person without intending to arrest, if done, say, to assist someone in distress or at risk of self-harm, will be within the functions of an emergency worker (DPP v Ahmed [2021] EWHC 2122; see also R v Campbell [2020] EWHC 3868).

Human trafficking

The Court of Appeal has struck a note of caution regarding an assessment of a civil servant working within the Competent Authority as to whether a defendant was conclusively a victim of trafficking. The caseworker was not to be viewed as an expert witness and could not give opinion evidence on the issue to the court. The requirements of Crim PR 19 were not satisfied by the assessment which would often rely on hearsay, not the subject of an application to admit pursuant to Crim PR 20 (R v Brecani [2021] EWCA Crim 731).


Whether a place where someone lives is a dwelling will be an important issue as to allocation and sentence. A hotel room where the complainant stayed was held not to be a dwelling, the court noting that the resident had no choice as to room, furnishings and décor (R v Chipunza [2021] EWCA Crim 597).

The court in R v Massey [2001] EWCA Crim 531 did hold that burglary of a hotel room is more akin to burglary of a dwelling than, say, business premises, but there is no definition of ‘dwelling’ to be found within the Theft Act 1968, so the answer must always be a matter of fact and degree.

Restraining order on acquittal

This can be a useful tool for the practitioner and the court, but there needs to be an admitted factual basis, or a conclusion on hearing and/or reading evidence as to why the order is necessary (R v Baldwin [2021] EWCA Crim 703). Similarly, on an application to extend the period of a restraining order, Crim PR 31.5 requires the applicant to identify, inter alia, what material circumstances have changed since the order was made. The court quashed the extension where no breach had occurred over the original 10-year period of the order and the individual had not reoffended. Necessity remains the test (R v Jackson [2021] EWCA Crim 901).

Sending of indictable only offences

This is now possible in the absence of the accused (R v Umerji [2021] EWCA Crim 598).

Notification requirements

The use of social media by sex offenders using sobriquets is the use of ‘other names’ for the purposes of section 83(5) of the Sex Offences Act 2003, so such names must be notified to the police otherwise the breach offence is committed (R v Smith (Kyle Damien) [2021] EWCA Crim 716).

New sentencing guidelines

The Sentencing Council has published new guidelines in respect of (some offences of) assault (into effect 1 July 2021), modern slavery and trade-mark offences (both into effect 1 October 2021).


Adrian Lower is a district judge (magistrates’ courts)