1 February 2021
Around one in seven Derbyshire Police officers were injured through work-related violence in the last year, a new report reveals.
The statistics, which are revealed in the Police Federation’s demand, capacity and welfare survey, were described as “absolutely appalling” by Federation branch chair Tony Wetton.
They show that 15 per cent of respondents reported being injured as a result of work-related violence in the last 12 months. That figure is up from 14 per cent in 2018 but lower than the national figure of 16 per cent.
Tony said: “It’s absolutely appalling that our members are being attacked and injured just for doing their jobs.
“And now we’re increasingly seeing the threat of the potentially deadly virus being used against our colleagues as well with offenders spitting and coughing on them and claiming to be infected.
“Policing is a demanding and challenging job as it is without the added threat of attack. This is why, as a Federation, we continue to call for anyone attacking police officers and emergency workers to face the toughest possible sentences. The days of police officers being regarded by some as fair game for assault has to come to an end. Derbyshire Police are working hard to bring offenders to justice but CPS and the courts have to do their bit too.”
The survey examined Derbyshire Police officers’ experiences of the pandemic and its impact.
Some two per cent of respondents reported they’ve had Covid-19 confirmed by a positive antigen or antibody test, while another 23 per cent believe they’ve had the virus based on their suspicion or medical advice. 48 per cent said they’ve not had it, while 27 per cent were unsure.
A total of 28 per cent of respondents reported they were very or extremely worried about the impact the crisis will have on them personally.
Of those, 34 per cent were concerned about contracting Covid-19 from close contact in the line of duty; 28 per cent were concerned at being assaulted by an infected person; 46 per cent having adequate access to testing and 25 per cent at enforcing lockdown restrictions.
And 28 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed they have all the equipment they personally need to protect them from Covid-19 while at work.
Tony said: “Our members are only human with families and loved ones to go home to at the end of their shift, and so it’s only natural that they should be concerned about the impact of this potentially deadly virus.
“Officers are in contact with the public all of the time – we can’t always police at two metres. Officers need to be protected from the virus not only for their own safety and peace of mind - it could help prevent them spreading it to the very people they are seeking to protect.
“That is why the Police Federation is urging the Government to make officers a priority for the vaccines.”
In other results, the survey found per cent of 79 per cent of respondents had experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety, or other difficulties with their health and wellbeing over the last 12 months.
Meanwhile, 30 of respondents viewed their job as very or extremely stressful, lower than in 2018 (41 per cent), 63 per cent said there were not enough officers in their team/unit to do the job properly.
Elsewhere, 48 per cent of respondents reported never or rarely being able to take their full rest break entitlement, lower than in 2018 (56 per cent). There was also a drop in the number who reported their workload is too high, or much too high at 57 per cent down from 62 per cent.
The national picture shows that 26 per cent of officers believed they’ve contracted the virus. Of those, 45 per cent believed they contracted the virus through work-related activities.
Almost one in three (32 per cent) reported a member of the public who was believed to carry the virus had purposely threatened to breathe or cough on them, while nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said someone had actually done so.
Officers also said they had been frequently exposed to incidents which placed them at risk of physical and/or psychological harm, with 16 per cent stating they had suffered one or more injuries requiring medical attention due to work-related violence.
Over half (55 per cent) had been the victim of an unarmed physical attack over the previous 12 months, and this figure increased to 83 per cent when only examining responses from officers working in response, neighbourhood policing, custody and roads.
Officers felt undervalued for the dangerous work they do, and high levels of fatigue and occupational stress were found in the survey to be commonplace. Mental health and wellbeing issues were highlighted by 77 per cent of police officers, and the majority (90 per cent) of these respondents indicated psychological difficulties had been caused, or made worse, by working within policing.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The results of this survey have come directly from our members – those police officers who are on the frontline dealing with whatever society throws at them.
“The increasing level of violence they face, especially involving the weaponising of the virus, is a sad indictment of the society we live in.
“Government must hear them; they must be given all the protection they need to protect themselves and this includes being prioritised for the Covid vaccine. We have had enough of the warm words, we now need action,” he added.