3 September 2020
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton says attacks on officers are unacceptable and offenders should feel the full weight of the law.
Tony was speaking after the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing published their wide-ranging Officer and Staff Safety Review.
The review was commissioned by NPCC chair Martin Hewitt after a spate of attacks on officers – last year there were 30,679 assaults on police officers in England and Wales, or 84 a day.
Tony has welcomed the review, which makes 28 recommendations to improve officer safety.
“Attacks on our members are unacceptable at any time,” he said. “They worked tirelessly during the pandemic so to see officers being assaulted and offenders spitting on them to weaponise Covid-19 has been particularly appalling.
“Our members put their lives on the line every day, but assaults should not be seen as part of the job. They need the full protection of the law to send out the message it won’t be tolerated.
“Officers have a unique job, so it’s critical that they receive the right training and have access to the best equipment to keep themselves and the public safe,” Tony added, “We need police leaders to read this report but then make sure they act on the recommendations to improve officer safety and keep our members safe.”
More than 40,000 voices were canvassed for the Officer and Staff Safety Review, including many front-line officers.
Recommendations include training for roads policing officers, improved equipment and further research on the link between shift work and safe driving practices with the review having identified the high number of officer deaths as they travelled to and from work.
The Federation has welcomed the report’s recommendations, but national vice-chair Ché Donald said it must not just become another doorstop and be forgotten in a year’s time.
He explained: “There are many good points raised in this review, with much good work already in play. However, chief officers must now take swift action to implement all immediately, so they are meaningful, make a tangible difference and are directly felt by officers on the ground.”
And he added: “Along with the majority of the public, the Federation is appalled by the atrocious levels of violence colleagues have faced recently and has been demanding action. That’s why we welcomed this review and want to see its finding make a real difference.
“All too often my colleagues are not treated as victims when they are assaulted, leaving them feeling failed by supervisors and the criminal justice system, as they have made clear in this officer and staff survey.
“It is only right officers have the very best equipment, training and support for the dangerous job they do; we made this crystal clear in PFEW’s evidence to the review.”
The recommendations include a review of equipment, the overhaul of safety training, and a new College of Policing led national curriculum so every officer receives the same standard of tuition.
In addition, the findings contain a commitment to officers and staff about the minimum standard of support and communication they would receive should they suffer an assault, and a pledge to consider rolling out ‘Operation Hampshire’ - the seven-point plan to reduce assaults - further. The initiative was started locally in his home force by John Apter who is now national Federation chair.