Chief con­sta­bles sum­moned to cri­sis talks

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Giles Sheldrick Chief Re­porter

CHIEF con­sta­bles will hold a cri­sis meet­ing next month af­ter an alarm­ing rise in vi­o­lence against the po­lice.

The Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil has sum­moned each of the 44 most se­nior of­fi­cers in Eng­land, Wales and Scot­land for a sum­mit on how to tackle the crim­i­nal­ity blight­ing the streets of Wild West Bri­tain.

Each will be asked to pro­vide de­tails of the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing re­cent at­tacks on their of­fi­cers and how they in­tend to stop the dis­turb­ing trend.

The show­down meet­ing comes af­ter a hor­rific spate of bru­tal­ity which has seen dozens of uni­formed of­fi­cers se­ri­ously

in­jured and one killed. Martin He­witt, chair­man of the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil, said: “Our of­fi­cers ac­cept, at times, they will have to run to­wards dan­ger.

“That’s part of the job. But we must never reach a point where it is ac­cept­able for of­fi­cers to be vi­o­lently abused, at­tacked, in­jured, or worse.

“At­tacks on po­lice of­fi­cers pro­tect­ing the pub­lic have a cor­ro­sive ef­fect across so­ci­ety.”

The NPCC called in the heads of forces af­ter PC An­drew Harper, a 28-year-old new­ly­wed with Thames Val­ley Po­lice, was killed re­spond­ing to a re­ported bur­glary in Berk­shire on Au­gust 15.

He was the first of­fi­cer to die on duty since PC Keith Palmer was stabbed out­side Par­lia­ment in March 2017. One of the key sub­jects dis­cussed will be whether front­line po­lice are ad­e­quately equipped to deal with the threats they face on a daily ba­sis.

Ev­ery of­fi­cer is given a ba­ton, CS spray, leg and arm re­straints and hand­cuffs as stan­dard, but there have been calls for them all to be armed with Tasers.

Fig­ures show that cur­rently, there are just 17,000 of­fi­cers trained to use the weapon.

John Apter, Na­tional Chair of the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion of Eng­land and Wales, said: “We wel­come this ac­tion from the chiefs to work to­wards im­prov­ing the safety of our hard-work­ing mem­bers – but this must be more than just talk. Ac­tion must be taken now.

“We will once again be push­ing chiefs to com­mit to rolling out Tasers to all who want them.

“Of­fi­cers tell me daily they are feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble due to the lack of this vi­tal, life-sav­ing pro­tec­tive equip­ment and I will con­tinue to play my part in lob­by­ing Govern­ment to fund this.

“I know chiefs want to do the right thing but they must also be seen to do the right thing.

“I hear all the time from lead­ers within polic­ing that of­fi­cers are their most valu­able as­set – but now they need to prove it.

“Well­be­ing needs to be more than just a poster on the wall. It is para­mount of­fi­cers re­ceive the right tools to do their jobs.”

This week Nick Ad­der­ley, Chief Con­sta­ble of Northamp­ton­shire Po­lice, ex­clu­sively told the Daily Ex­press that his force would be­come the first to is­sue Tasers to ev­ery front­line of­fi­cer be­cause of a shock­ing rise in as­saults on staff.

Last night, he said: “I am de­lighted this is­sue has gath­ered mo­men­tum over the past week and I am con­fi­dent that, as a con­se­quence, more of­fi­cers will feel sup­ported and pro­tected. This

is­sue is not go­ing to abate and I will con­tinue to do all I can to en­sure our of­fi­cers get the pro­tec­tion they de­serve.”

And Durham Po­lice chief con­sta­ble Jo Far­rell said: “Sadly there are sit­u­a­tions in which po­lice of­fi­cers need to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to sub­due vi­o­lent sus­pects to pro­tect the pub­lic.

“Tasers al­low us to do so swiftly and safely with­out caus­ing last­ing in­jury and are an ex­tremely ef­fec­tive means of deal­ing with the many dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions of­fi­cers find them­selves in.

“Too of­ten our of­fi­cers are sub­ject to as­saults in the line of duty, sim­ply for do­ing their job.

“We need to make sure that our of­fi­cers have the tools they need to pro­tect the pub­lic and pro­tect them­selves.”

The Home Of­fice is rush­ing through plans to es­tab­lish a po­lice covenant to en­sure of­fi­cers “get the sup­port and re­spect they de­serve”. Home Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel has also ex­tended a pi­lot lift­ing re­stric­tions on stop and search pow­ers.

Fig­ures ob­tained by this news­pa­per show po­lice were the vic­tims of 10,399 as­saults that caused in­jury last year – up 32 per cent from 7,903 in 2015/16.

A fur­ther 20,578 as­saults did not cause in­juries.

Su­per­in­ten­dent John-Paul Ruf­fle, of Greater Manch­ester Po­lice, said: “The Taser can be a valu­able and ef­fec­tive op­tion for of­fi­cers deal­ing with po­ten­tially volatile sit­u­a­tions.

“It is of­ten the case just hav­ing a Taser of­fi­cer present can dif­fuse a threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion with­out them ac­tu­ally hav­ing to use it or get in­volved in a phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion.”

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