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Norfolk Police Federation

Chairman issues press release revealing shocking 32% rise in assaults on Norfolk officers

27 April 2018

Chair Andy Symonds issues press release to all media outlets, on-line, television, radio and print regarding the shocking rise in assaults on Norfolk officers.


515 Norfolk officers assaulted in 2017/18 an increase of 32% compared to 2016/17.
This is the equivalent of 1/3 of all police officers in Norfolk being assaulted every year.
Norfolk Officers fed up with being treated as punch bags and lack of deterrents in the form of sentences at court.
The Police Federation’s on-going campaign to ‘Protect The Protectors’, is continuing its calls for a change in legislation; tougher sentencing; better training and access to equipment; more accurate data on police assaults; and improved welfare support.


Physical and verbal assaults on police officers are commonplace. Incidents are often under-reported and historically it has been difficult to determine the scale of the issue and national picture.

Andy Symonds, Chairman of the Norfolk Police Federations says “officer’s families are simply fed up of their loved ones returning home with injuries having been assaulted at work.”
Andy stated “I’ve spoken to officers who’ve had to tell their children a different account of how they came about their injuries as they don’t want them to worry or get upset”


Andy continued “Officers are fed up of turning up for duty in an ever demanding job, working hard to protect the community only to be punched, kicked, scratched, head-butted and spat at. Officers want protection in the form of a deterrent from the courts when they sentence offenders.”


In 2016/17, (1/4/16 to 31/3/17) a total of 390 Norfolk officers were assaulted.
In 2017/18, (1/4/17 to 31/3/18) a total of 515 Norfolk officers were assaulted, which represents an extra 125 officers assaulted and equates to a 32% rise.
Of the 515 assaults, 383 were assaults which left no injury. 132 assaults caused injuries. Within the 132 it includes 113 offences of ABH (actual bodily harm). 19 offences of malicious wounding/ GBH (grievous bodily harm) with minor to serious wounds.


Andy Symonds, Chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation Branch says “unfortunately we have experienced an increase in the level of violence shown towards officers; recently we have had an officers suffer broken fingers, arms and noses in attacks. Other injuries include black eyes, bruising and concussion. These attacks leave their marks physically and mentally.”

Andy continued “our officers are not robots; they are human beings who wear a uniform with pride to protect the vulnerable, keep people safe and in doing so put their own safety and mental wellbeing at risk. They are also someone’s sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.”


Officers accept that they work in a role that will see them dealing with people who are agitated, distressed or confused. Police officers are not there to act as punch bag for members of the public and if someone assaults a police officer, spits at them or scratches them in any way they should expect a harsh sentence from the courts.


Andy continued “I’ve spoken with officers who’ve been spat at in the face by offenders who have blood in their salvia. Some of these offenders have communicable diseases. Spitting is a truly disgusting and demeaning act which means some officers have to go for blood tests and can wait for some results for up to 6 months to find out if they’ve contracted anything”
Norfolk Police Federation is backing the continuing national Police Federation campaign calling on MPs to back the police service and support calls for tougher sentencing for those who assault police officers, police staff and other emergency service personnel.


Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax, is helped with the campaign and has raised her concerns in Parliament on numerous occasions.
A change in the law to better protect emergency service workers, assaulted for simply doing their job, could be a step closer to reality due to A Private Members Bill, put forward by Chris Bryant MP, which reaches the received its report stage and due to be heard on Friday 27th April 2018.

The bill incorporates many of the provisions that the Police Federation of England Wales (PFEW) and partner staff associations have been calling for as part of the Protect the Protectors campaign. It will aim to introduce new offences including malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault aggravated when carried out against a constable, firefighter, doctor, paramedic, nurse or people assisting them in their duties.

Chair, Andy Symonds has written recently and had meetings with most of Norfolk MP’s to invite their support for this important issue. “I have impressed upon all of the Norfolk MP’s how important this is to officers and that they find the time to attend the report stage of this bill and offer their full support to this bill. It gives officers and other emergency service workers better protection”


Police officers play a vital role in society. But should not expect to come to work and be assaulted.
Norfolk Federation welcomed Norfolk Constabulary’s decision to introduction of Body Worn Video in the summer last year which we hope will reduce the number of assaults and provide protection to our members. The images the BWV captures of police officers being assaulted will help convict offenders and hope that when Judges and Magistrates actually view some of these shocking images they will punish the offenders properly.


With the rise in violence shown towards Norfolk’s officers the Federation has increased its calls for all officers in Norfolk who want it, to be given the training and access to TASER. We have been supported by the Chief Constable who recently announced that he has authorised a further 85 officers to be trained in TASER. This is extremely positive news particularly taking into account the current Government imposed austerity on police budgets. It requires extra money to be found from the budget to purchase and train these extra officers in TASER. I have sympathy for the Chief in trying to balance the ever decreasing budget from central government with the demands increasing. That’s why Andy Symonds met with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd recently when she visited Norfolk to raise a number of issues on behalf of officers in Norfolk.


Andy Symonds said “During the meeting with the Home Secretary, I raised a number of issues, one of them being assaults on officers. I impressed upon her the urgent requirement for extra funding from central government to enable Norfolk to purchase and train more officers in TASER”


We strongly support the wider roll-out of Taser to all front line officers should they wish to be equipped with it. Taser is an extremely effective means of dealing with the many dangerous situations that officers often face on the streets and is a less lethal option than more conventional firearms. In 80% of cases where Taser is drawn, it is not fired as the deterrent is enough, which helps protect communities as well as protecting officers from assaults.


Chair, Andy Symonds says “Officers want and deserve the best equipment to protect themselves and the community. Norfolk officers work in a huge county many parts rural and they can be many miles away from back-up should they need it. Therefore they need all the equipment to offer them the protection they clearly need. TASER will not stop all assaults but it will go a long way in reducing them due to the deterrent in carrying them.”


Andy Symonds says “I have received a lot of support from our Chief Constable on the Protect the Protectors campaign along with the recent decision to train an extra 85 officers in TASER. He has been extremely supportive in respect of welfare for officers and we have discussed some further areas that could be looked at to be introduced to further support officers who’ve been assaulted. This is an ongoing bit of work that will continue at pace.”

 

Article on front page of EDP and then full story on pages 6 & 7.

On line version of the EDP article also published click here to view

Article also published on ITV news website click here to view

National Federation #ProtectTheProtectors campaign with videos can be found here