28 at­tacks a day on of­fi­cers in crime epi­demic

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

VI­O­LENT as­saults on po­lice have risen by a third in just four years, new fig­ures re­veal.

Of­fi­cers are be­ing in­jured on duty at a rate of 28 a day as the crime epi­demic sweep­ing the UK shows no sign of end­ing.

Bob­bies were vic­tims of 10,399 as­saults that caused in­juries last year – up 32 per cent from 7,903 recorded in

2015/16. There were a fur­ther 20,578 as­saults on front­line of­fi­cers that did not cause in­juries.

The alarm­ing spike last night prompted calls for forces to rou­tinely is­sue Taser de­vices to all of­fi­cers who want to carry them.

Mean­while, courts were urged to throw the book at thugs who at­tack those work­ing to pro­tect the pub­lic.

John Apter, na­tional chair of the Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion of Eng­land and Wales, said: “We be­lieve th­ese fig­ures are just the tip of the ice­berg.

“Ev­ery of­fi­cer signs up know­ing polic­ing can be dan­ger­ous, and if called upon they will be the ones ex­pected to un­ques­tion­ingly run to­wards dan­ger.

“And ev­ery day in ev­ery town across the coun­try, po­lice of­fi­cers are as­saulted and in­jured just do­ing their jobs.

“The Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion cam­paigned for harsher sen­tences. What we need now is for mag­is­trates and judges to use the full force of their bol­stered pow­ers to re­in­force the mes­sage that th­ese acts are un­ac­cept­able and should never be con­sid­ered ‘just part of the job’.”

Lat­est Home Of­fice data shows there were 20,578 as­saults on of­fi­cers across all forces in Eng­land and Wales, in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice, that did not cause in­jury in the year to March (2018/19). The 10,399 as­saults that did cause in­juries were an in­crease of 27 per cent in a year.

Metropoli­tan Po­lice of­fi­cers were the most rou­tinely at­tacked, with 2,319 as­saults caus­ing in­juries last year, equal to six a day.

There were 524 in the West Mid­lands, 424 in Hamp­shire, 340 in Mersey­side, 323 in Avon and Somerset, 288 in Sus­sex and 274 in South York­shire. Over­all, there were 30,977 as­saults of any kind, equal to 85 of­fi­cers be­ing at­tacked ev­ery day. Tory MP David Davies said: “Th­ese ab­so­lutely ap­palling fig­ures un­der­line the im­por­tance of much stronger prison sen­tences for those who com­mit vi­o­lent crimes, es­pe­cially those who at­tack front­line pub­lic sec­tor work­ers, in­clud­ing po­lice of­fi­cers, in the course of their duty.

“Hav­ing spent nine years as a spe­cial con­sta­ble I know the po­lice put them­selves on the line to pro­tect the pub­lic and don’t de­serve the abuse and vi­o­lence they face on an al­most daily ba­sis.”

Rank and file of­fi­cers are fac­ing

an un­prece­dented threat from crim­i­nals car­ry­ing knives and weapons, it was said.

All front­line po­lice carry ba­tons but Tasers – first is­sued in 2004 – are not rou­tinely au­tho­rised by all forces.

The in­crease in as­saults on of­fi­cers comes af­ter a week in which two were hos­pi­talised for hor­rific in­juries sus­tained while on duty.

Last Thurs­day, PC Stu­art Out­ten, 28, was stabbed in the head as he tried to stop a van sus­pected of hav­ing no in­surance in Ley­ton, east

Lon­don. The Met Po­lice of­fi­cer Tasered his as­sailant de­spite re­ceiv­ing mul­ti­ple stab wounds to his head and body.

PC Out­ten suf­fered a wound to the side of his head which re­quired stitches and needed an op­er­a­tion for a hand in­jury caused while try­ing to fend off the at­tack.

PC Gareth Phillips was run over by his own pa­trol car in Birm­ing­ham on Satur­day.

The 42-year-old traf­fic of­fi­cer was left with po­ten­tially life-chang­ing in­juries af­ter the in­ci­dent in Mose­ley. Home Of­fice fig­ures show forces in Eng­land and Wales saw 20,564 po­lice of­fi­cers leave be­tween March 2010 and March 2019.

Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son said the re­cruit­ment of 20,000 new of­fi­cers would be­gin within weeks as he prom­ises to get a grip on “Wild West Bri­tain”.

Such was the alarm at the num­ber of at­tacks on po­lice of­fi­cers, the Home Of­fice in­tro­duced a spe­cific cat­e­gory for “as­sault with in­jury on a con­sta­ble” in 2017.

Home Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel said: “I’ll back the po­lice and help bring an end to th­ese shock­ing acts of vi­o­lence.”

A Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “Be­ing at­tacked should never be part of the job for our coura­geous po­lice of­fi­cers, who put them­selves in harm’s way to pro­tect us.

“That is why we sup­ported the As­saults on Emer­gency Work­ers Act, which means judges must con­sider tougher sen­tences for as­saults on emer­gency work­ers.”

AS FAR back as 1879, Gil­bert and Sullivan’s opera the Pi­rates of Pen­zance pro­claimed: “A po­lice­man’s lot is not a happy one”. Sadly, that is more true than ever. As we report to­day, as­saults on po­lice now run at 28 a day, up a third from four years ago.

This is in­tol­er­a­ble. Of all the pro­fes­sions, be­ing in the po­lice is one that al­ready in­volves great hu­man sac­ri­fices: of time, of safety, of so­cial life. This in­creased risk may yet put off vi­tal new re­cruits to this re­ward­ing but be­lea­guered pub­lic role.

Polic­ing in this coun­try has long been one “by con­sent” – that is, law en­force­ment is a civil pact with the pub­lic with a strongly pre­ven­ta­tive role. Although im­per­fect, this ap­proach dif­fers hugely to many other coun­tries and it is a hu­mane tradition of which we should be proud.

But it is com­monly ar­gued that the Bri­tish po­lice need more pro­tec­tion and re­cent events have made it nec­es­sary to face that de­mand. The Taser stun gun has helped a lot at the trick­ier end of polic­ing and it should be made more widely avail­able.

At the same time a re­vival of re­spect for the po­lice also needs to take place – and the best way to do that is by in­creas­ing daily pub­lic con­tact. Let’s bring more bob­bies back out on the beat – and en­able them to bet­ter pro­tect them­selves.

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