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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.
Mel Warnes, Chair of Surrey Police Federation, said: “This review is really good news and will definitely help in focussing on why it is important to protect police officers, who have to deal with challenges and dangers to their safety on a daily basis.
“The recommendations will hold Chiefs to account, particularly around officer safety regarding having the right equipment, but also in ensuring that assaults on police are dealt with effectively.
“Violence towards police is increasing and something proactive to deal with this is definitely needed.”
Mel added: “A consistent approach of dealing with the offenders will hopefully have the desired effect on making officers feel they are being treated like victims of crime and the offence taken seriously, rather than depending on where you work depends on the type of investigation you receive.
“A particularly good point which is still being discussed is the weaponizing of vehicles to injure officers. This must be continued with and implemented as officers are more and more frequently being seriously injured/killed by vehicles.
“The momentum needs to be maintained on all points and not just a few.
“Surrey’s Chief Constable is keen to have input from Surrey Federation on focussing on these points and already as a Force we are increasing the amount of officers carrying taser and also how to better deal with assaults on police officers and staff.”
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.”