3 September 2020
A new offence for those deliberately using, threatening or attempting to use a vehicle to target a police employee and the potential to increase the availability of Tasers and Spit Guards for use by officers are just two of the recommendations in a new Safety Review.
In total 28 recommendations have been made by the National Police Chiefs’ Council today in a nationwide 156 page report into the rapid rise of assaults against police officers - and importantly what can be done to combat them.
Statistics show there were 30,679 assaults on police officers in England & Wales last year. That’s 590 a week. 84 a day. The research by the College of Policing also found 88% of officers said they had been assaulted during their career.
Other recommendations in the safety review include new approach to investigations into officer assaults with arrest of an offender the default position, The College of Policing overhauling current safety training and replacing it with a new national curriculum and considering the benefits of any BWV footage of assaults on officers and staff being played at court, regardless of the defendant’s plea.
Stu Berry, Chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: “I have been a police officer for nearly two decades and the types of crimes we encounter has diversified and the threat to officer safety has increased exponentially in that time with a significant rise of assaults on our members.
“I hope this report will produce tangible and expedited results for Police Officers throughout England and Wales.
“Officer safety and welfare should be the priority of each and every Chief Constable, but warm words and well-intentioned strategy will not be a deterrent if the courts do impose strict custodial sentences on those who inflict harm on our colleagues.
“Police Officers must feel confident to use their protective equipment and consider use force to protect themselves and others if it is necessary. Taser is an essential piece equipment within modern policing. It is not a dirty word, a punchline to sell column inches or a social media frenzy to pillory Police Officers. Chief Officers must do more to provide context and balance to this and other forms of hysteria if they seek to protect the perception of greatest system of Policing in the world and the morale of their workforce.”
Stu added: “Despite this report, scrutiny of the IOPC must be sustained by Government, Chief Officers and the Federation as improper delays, unacceptably lengthy investigations and low investigative thresholds continuing to cause a significant disproportionate detriment to officer welfare and wellbeing.”
More than 40,000 interested parties contributed to the review’s questionnaire.
Other recommendations include that the College of Policing should produce a learning package for
officers and staff to raise awareness of the risks of a corrosive substances and that Chief Constables should issue slash- and needlestick-resistant gloves to all police officers.
PFEW National Vice-Chair, Ché Donald, said: “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.
“This review must not become just another door stop and be forgotten about a year down the line. That would mean letting down my colleagues even further.
“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.”