7 July 2020
Leicestershire Police Federation urges officers to report assaults and get the support they need
Leicestershire Police officers are being urged to report assaults and come forward and talk to the Police Federation to get the help they need.
Worrying new figures have revealed 21 officers were attacked, bitten or spat at in June. One officer was punched in the face as he walked down the road; another was dragged along by a car after making a routine stop check.
Leicestershire Police Federation says the figures could even be higher as not all officers report the assaults they suffer.
That’s something they want to see change so that they can provide members with the right help and support and get the accurate data they need to lobby for more protection for them in the future.
Federation Vice Chairman Adam Commons said the nature of the assaults were showing signs of society returning to normal after lockdown, give that many were not COVID-19 related.
“Out of the 21 assaults recorded, 10 of them were spitting incidents and from what I’ve read on the reports these are not just ‘I’ve got COVID I’m going to spit at you’ offences, it’s just people going back to spitting at officers again,” he said.
“They are not just assaults on individual officers either. There was an incident when four or five officers were bitten, scratched and spat on. People still think it’s okay to do this and carry out these assaults.
“Broadly speaking, a lot of assaults happen on standard jobs sometimes from the most innocuous situations. You can’t put all of them down to COVID-19 - unfortunately, they are back to usual assaults.”
The so-called Protect the Protectors Bill in 2018 doubled the then maximum sentence for assaulting a blue light worker six months to a year.
But it’s not proven to be the hoped-for deterrent. Assault figures on police and emergency service workers continue to rise, and these days rather than helping, some people decide to film assaults and post them on social media.
Harsher sentences have been dished out during the pandemic, particularly for COVID related offences and that’s something Adam hopes to see more of as the nation returns to some level of normality.
“During COVID we have seen increased sentences for people spitting or coughing,” he said.
“That was the COVID factor rather than the nature of the assault itself, I think. We’ve also got a supportive Home Secretary who is vocal against these assaults and seems to want to increase sentencing.
“But it’s alright giving the judicial system the powers to do that – they have to be used.
“Magistrates can now put someone who assaults an officer in prison for a year, but they haven’t been doing it
“I don’t think there has been that deterrent. We’ve started using these sentences during the pandemic; we need to carry on using them,” Adam added.
“Society has changed – people want police to be there, but if we can’t help them, they want us to some of them are lashing out.
“Rather than using their phones to record these assaults, why can’t people dial 999 to help officers who are clearly struggling?”
It’s vital, Adam said, that officers come forward to report any assault on them.
“If officers let us know about the assault, we can support them. It might be an area of their work they can’t talk to their Line Manager about. We can refer people to fit for duty for assessment, physio and get them into the welfare support scheme if they need it.
“I’ll try and make contact with officers who been assaulted just to ask if they are okay and if they have everything they need,” he said.
“The [Leicestershire] force is very good and supportive – between us we try and get hold of everyone to make sure they have what they need.
“It’s massively important to make sure it’s recorded properly, if it’s a push, a punch, whatever.
“Recording it means we are aware of it as the Federation and the force and that we have the evidence to show the Government assaults are rising and get them to do something about it,” he added.
“Something minor can become something serious. The sooner we know about it, the sooner we can help.”