SHOCKING RISE IN POLICE ASSAULTS
28 attacks a day on officers in crime epidemic
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.