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11 June 2021
Officers have a duty to themselves and colleagues to report every assault, a discussion at the Police Federation’s Annual Conference was told.
Chief Inspector Dave Brewster, who has been seconded to Oscar Kilo from the Metropolitan Police Service, issued the advice during a roundtable event on the topic of Operation Hampshire – a campaign to establish best practice in the event that a police officer is a victim of assault.
In response to a point made by PFEW National Board Member Belinda Goodwin, that some officers are reluctant to report an assault against them for fear of burdening already-overworked colleagues with additional paperwork, Mr Brewster said:
“Every single assault regardless of the injury has an impact. First, we have to consider the impact on the individual. Second, consider the impact on your team, the people around you, when you walk away from it. What does it say to the newer officers who are looking to follow your lead when you walk away from something.
“Also, think about the impact on policing as a profession when we allow this to happen. I understand why colleagues turn a blind eye to it, but that could be the person who badly attacks your colleague on another night, because we did not get them in front of a court. These things escalate.”
Mr Brewster emphasised there is a “thin blue line” between officers and aggressors and any assault is not acceptable.
He told the discussion, hosted by Steve Hartshorn of the PFEW National Board, that there are 7,500 assaults in London every year. Half of these result in an injury of some kind.
“That’s 19 assaults a day and about 30,000 assaults a year across the country,” Mr Brewster said.
Operation Hampshire had grown out of a seven-point plan drawn up in Hampshire Constabulary by our National Chair John Apter (then Hampshire’s Federation Chair) and Chief Constable Andy Marsh. It established that assaulted officers are victims of crimes and what they are entitled to.
Today there is a point of contact in every UK force which shares best practice and strategies. It aims to ensure that there is a consistent approach across the country.
Mr Brewster said he regards the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act as a strong piece of legislation. However, he and his colleagues are keen to get to the bottom of why many cases are discontinued. This means policing getting its “house in order” but also exercising the right to challenge decision makers.
He added: “We are educating colleagues on the importance of a good victim personal impact statement. Equally we help them understand that the victim’s right to review applies to them and not just the public.”