20 October 2020
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton says it is essential police have the full backing of the criminal justice system to send out a message it’s unacceptable to assault officers.
Tony was speaking after policing minister Kit Malthouse gave an assurance that custodial sentences for those who attack officers will be doubled.
Mr Malthouse told Federation representatives during an online meeting that the Government would see through its promise and monitor the sentences that are handed out.
Tony said: “We know policing is unpredictable and dangerous, but that does not make it right that members should be attacked in the line of duty.
“Assaults have taken on a sickening twist during the pandemic with some offenders weaponising Covid-19 by spitting on officers and claiming to have symptoms.
“Our brave members put themselves on the line every single day, so it’s essential they have the full backing of the criminal justice system when it comes to assaults on them.
“We need to send out the clear message that it’s totally unacceptable.”
Mr Malthouse, who was questioned by reps on a range of issues, listed his top three priorities as getting crime down, recruiting 20,000 new officers and ensuring the police family is “happy, safe and well-motivated”.
On the officer uplift, he said: "We've already recruited 4,000 and I'm confident we'll hit 6,000 before Christmas.”
Tony said: “More than ever we need officers available to deter and prevent crime and ease the burden on colleagues, so it’s pleasing to hear the recruitment of new officers is three months ahead of schedule.”
National Federation chair John Apter added: "There’s still a feeling that those more experienced in life like ex-military or public sector, policing does not want them.
“The age profile in policing is incredibly young. I don’t criticise them for that because we want keen people through the door, but we want a blend. So, we’ve got to change the tone of the messaging.”
Mr Malthouse praised police officers for the relations they have built with communities which paid “enormous dividends” during the pandemic.
And he reiterated the Government's support for introducing a Police Covenant and police driver protections “as soon as possible”. He also supported the idea of investigations into police officers by the Independent Office for Police Conduct being expedited and more geared towards learning than punishment.
Tony said: “These are all issues that the Federation has been campaigning on and which affect our members.
“It’s really pleasing to see that our work and our campaigns are having an impact, and I welcome the Government’s support for them.
“Our members can be assured that we’ll continue to campaign and press the case on matters that impact them.”