A nationwide report into the rapid rise of assaults against police officers has been welcomed by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).
PFEW National Vice-Chair, Ché Donald, has backed the 28 recommendations made by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and wants action to better protect officers, after a comprehensive Officer and Staff Safety Review was published today (September 2). It was commissioned last year in response to a spate of serious attacks against police officers.
Along with evidence provided by PFEW, more than 40,000 separate voices were canvassed for the wide-ranging review, which included the views of many frontline officers who were encouraged to complete a survey by the College of Policing.
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.”
The recommendations include a review of equipment, the overhaul of safety training, and a new Police College-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’ further – the seven-point plan to reduce assaults; an initiative started locally in his home force by now PFEW National Chair, John Apter.
Police chiefs are also discussing with government:
• A new offence for deliberately using, threatening or attempting to use a vehicle to target a police employee.
• A hard-line approach to investigations into officer assaults with arrest of an offender becoming the default position.
Last year there were 30,679 assaults on police officers in England and Wales – that’s 84 a day.
Just over half of officers and PCSOs were satisfied with support they received from supervisors following a recent assault, and only 61 per cent said they were treated fairly and with respect across the entire police investigation and criminal justice process.
Other recommendations include:
• Action to address the hidden risks officers face on the roads, both on and off duty.
• Of the officers and staff killed on duty between 2008-2019, 53 per cent were killed in a road traffic collision and the majority of those were commuting to or from work.
Chiefs have also been advised to consider the benefits of any BWV footage of assaults on officers and staff being played at court, regardless of the defendant’s plea. Last month PFEW wrote a letter to chiefs urging forces to consider sharing more BWV footage online to protect officers and show the full story behind police interaction clips which appear on social media.