SERIOUS attacks on Wiltshire police officers hit new highs last year.

Home Office figures showing 155 officers were injured in attacks in 2018/19, up from 141 in the previous year.

Wiltshire Police Federation chief said it was totally unacceptable for officers to be subjected to “heinous” attacks.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard has set up a task force looking at what more can be done to keep officers safe. Unlike in other police forces, all Wiltshire officers have been offered the chance to train to use Tasers.

Home Office data shows that 155 assaults resulting in officer injuries were recorded by Wiltshire Police in 2018/19, compared to 141 during the previous year.

The rise in such attacks is slightly smaller than that across England and Wales, where injuries to officers through assault increased 27 per cent during the period, to around 10,400.

The data suggests that assaults are becoming more violent, with 117 assaults without injury logged by Wiltshire Police in 2018/19 – down from 155 in the previous 12-months.

Nationally, assaults on emergency workers is under-reported, with many officers seeing it as part of the job. However, an increasing number of assaults are making their way to court. Laws passed last year doubled the maximum sentence for a simple assault on an emergency service worker from six months to a year.

Insp Mark Andrews, chairman of the Wiltshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “Any attack on a member of the emergency services is an attack on society as a whole.

“Almost one officer a day in Wiltshire is being assaulted for just trying to do their job, they don’t deserve this it is totally unacceptable.  “I believe we will only see a reduction in these heinous attacks when our judges and magistrates hand out proper robust sentences to those found guilty in court.”

Earlier this month, Wiltshire’s chief constable Kier Pritchard said his force had bought 50 new Tasers and 200 spit guards as part of a drive to improve officer safety.

“The sad reality of modern-day policing is that more officers and frontline staff are being assaulted on duty than ever before. This, quite rightly, brings a sharper focus on what police forces can do to best protect our frontline teams,” Mr Pritchard added.

Use of Tasers, an electrical incapacitation device, is controversial in some quarters. Police use of the weapon was inked by Amnesty International to18 deaths in the past 16 years.