EMERGENCY SUMMIT TO COMBAT SOARING VIOLENCE
Chief constables summoned to crisis talks
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.”