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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Chair Mark Loker: “Whilst policing will always carry inherent risks, there can never be an expectation that being assaulted in the line of duty is acceptable."

22 December 2021

Government statistics – published this month - show in the last financial year 22,421 police officers were injured through 'an intentional or unintentional assault' while keeping the public safe.

On 391,202 occasions, police officers needed to use force to protect themselves.

Mark Loker, Chair of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: “In Avon and Somerset we have had 1,473 colleagues assaulted in the year to March 2021, which places us 4th highest in the Country, which is not an enviable position for us to be in and in my mind that is 1,473 too many.

“Whilst policing will always carry inherent risks, there can never be an expectation that being assaulted in the line of duty is acceptable. I often draw back on the Peelian principles of policing and that whilst Police Officers are entitled and often expected to use physical force in the exercise of their duties, is has always got to be at an extent that is the minimum necessary to achieve a policing objective.

“It would be impossible to police otherwise and whilst we police by consent, we need to have the support of our public in doing this and to have trust in our ability to police your communities.

“We have this week seen a sentence for the abhorrent attempted arson on a police officer by Ryan Roberts, convicted for 5 offences where he has legitimately threatened the life of a police officer, who I know is a father and a husband, we welcome this sentence.

“We have gratefully heard the news of Harper’s Law, but a fight that should not have been necessary, it should have been led by Police leaders and the government, not the widow of a police officer who lost his life in the line of duty.

“We need to evolve and that is shown in our approach to resource requests, but we do not seem to be evolving to the threats we are facing and we need to ensure that our staff are properly protected and allowed to conduct their sworn oaths and duties without fear of injury, assault or in worst case scenarios permanent disablement or loss of life. We can start by objective application of their statutory duties by the scrutineers of policing and the routine supply of Taser for all front line officers.”

Mark added: “As I say, 1,473 assaults are 1,473 too many and I am reminded to an old saying that an assault on police is an assault on society and it cannot be allowed to continue without robust punishment.

“The IOPC have got to accept their part in this as they are challenging the honest held belief of officers at that time, it is very easy to say there is no innocence until proven otherwise where it comes to police conduct matters, in fact I would go so far to say it was guilt until proven otherwise, which is rarely found due to the lack of objectivity in conduct investigations.”