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.
Mark Andrews, Chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “I welcome the efforts of the NPCC in consultation with the Federation. Their report makes very concerning reading and highlights the fact 88% of officers surveyed had been assaulted in their career with 39% in the last 12 months.
“This is unacceptable - police officers come to work to protect the community not to be kicked, punched and spat at. It is not ‘part of the job’ and these statistics should be seen as a national disgrace.
“There are many good points raised in this review, and I am happy to say Wiltshire’s Chief Constable has already put in place measures to try to reduce attacks and to bring offenders to justice.
“However, I would urge him to consider the 28 recommendations and take swift action to implement all immediately so our officers are given as much protection as can be afforded to them.
“This is not the first time we have looked at the reasons behind assaults on police officers. We have come a long way in our training, equipment and support but it has made no difference as the attacks keep happening, in fact things are getting worse.
“What we need is for sentencing to match the crime and recognition an attack on an officer is an attack on society. Only with tougher, longer sentencing will we ever see a difference. There should no first offence rap on the knuckles from the court, if you strike an officer then you go to directly to jail.”
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.”