4 November 2019
THUGS who attack police officers are getting away scot-free with only a tiny number being sent to jail, shocking figures reveal. Two-thirds of attackers are never prosecuted for assaulting police, and just four per cent who end up in court are put behind bars.
The startling statistics emerged as police leaders estimate an assault on front line bobbies happens every four minutes. Many say the justice system is failing to protect the force and called for more prosecutions and harsher sentences as a deterrent. According to the latest figures, 26,295 assaults on police were recorded in England and Wales in 2018. But only 8,265 thugs were convicted. Just 1,103 were sent to jail.
More than 1,500 were given either suspended prison sentences or conditional discharges. Community sentences were handed to 2,800 offenders, while 2,427 were fined.
But there were only 280 cases where magistrates ordered attackers to pay compensation to the injured officers.
A new law came into force this year doubling the maximum jail term for thugs who assault police and emergency workers to 12 months.
However, police leaders are pressing for greater punishments to curb the rising tide of violence against police on the streets.
The figures, from courts in England and Wales, are for the offence of “assault on constable” and do not include more serious attacks like wounding and attempted murder.
Director of public prosecutions Max Hill, QC, has held talks with police chiefs to discuss their rising concern over the number of offenders charged with attacking police.
But officially recorded statistics fail to give the full picture, say some experts. The number of attacks on officers and other emergency workers is “vastly under reported,” according to the Police Federation.
Data collected in England and Wales by the federation suggests there are more than two million physical attacks on police every year.
The federation is calling for improved access to more protective equipment.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said yesterday: “The director of public prosecutions has met with police colleagues to listen to their concerns. We have now agreed a joint approach and updated CPS guidance on prosecuting assaults on emergency workers will be published shortly.”
The dangers faced by police have been highlighted in recent months by several shocking incidents, including the killing of Thames Valley PC Andrew Harper.