6th February 2017
It is now estimated that an assault on a police officer happens every four minutes*.
This is a shocking statistic that further supports the Police Federation of England and Wales’ call to better protect those who risk their lives to protect us.
Today marks the launch of the Federation’s campaign to ‘Protect The Protectors’, calling 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 “Officers are being treated as 'punch bags' by increasingly violent sections of the public and I want to draw attention to this”
In the year to the end of March 2015, 450 Norfolk officers and staff reported they had been assaulted. We are awaiting the results for end of March 2016.
However, Norfolk Police Federation believes the actual number is higher since some officers do not report crimes committed against them because they feel violence is an inevitable part of the job.
Also, we believe the rising number of reports can be partly explained by a campaign to encourage officers and staff to report all assaults.
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 officer suffer a broken jaw in an attack. Other injuries include broken bones, black eyes, bruising and sadly other injuries such as concussion and a head injury caused by sustained attack on lone female officer”
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."
Norfolk Police Federation is backing a 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 leading the campaign and has raised her concerns in Parliament.
Chair, Andy Symonds has written to all Norfolk MP’s to invite their support for this important issue. He has asked all the Norfolk MP’s to attend give officers their support. There is a 10 minute rule bill due to take place on 7th February 2017 at 12:30pm in the main chamber of the House of Commons which will debate the need to give more protection to officers and all emergency service workers from assaults. “I do hope that all of the Norfolk MP’s attend the debate and vote in favour giving 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.
In late 2016 at the instigation of Norfolk Police Federation, Norfolk Police launched a 6 point plan on officer assaults pledging to fully support officers and civilian staff who are attacked in the line of duty. The Chief Constable Simon Bailey was fully supportive of the plan (I have attached a copy of this 6 point plan) and said: “It’s vital that as a force we’re giving officers our backing and letting them know that they are supported.
“Having to put up with violent behaviour is not ‘just part of the job’ and I retain tremendous admiration for any officer that exposes themselves to the dangers that comes with working on the frontline. I can pledge to our officers that this plan will be enforced in the event of an assault and I hope that this reassures you when you’re on duty.”
The federation welcome the introduction of Body Worn Video in the summer this year which we hope will reduce the number of assaults and provide protection to our members.
Nationally it’s been estimated that more than 23,000 officers are assaulted every year, but now estimations based on our latest welfare survey data suggest that there were potentially more than 2 million (2,113,602) unarmed physical assaults on officers over 12 months, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon during the same period.
Nationally and at a local level, via the Federation’s Parliamentary Working Group, work has been ongoing to raise serious concerns around police assaults - they should never be considered as ‘part of the job’.
As previously mentioned Halifax MP Holly Lynch has been championing the cause and is leading the calls in Parliament for tougher sentencing for those who assault police and other emergency workers. The seriousness of the dangers facing police was brought home to her when she accompanied a single-crewed officer on patrol in her constituency and had to dial 999 after he came under attack.
The campaign will develop in earnest, not only to call for the Government and the Sentencing Council to do more to safeguard public servants in the line of duty, but to show the realities of policing and what officers have to endure in their own words, through a series of hard-hitting videos and case study material.
Calum Macleod, vice-chair, Police Federation of England and Wales said: “Police officers face extraordinary situations and risks every day and these can often happen in the blink of an eye. Quite simply an assault on a police officer or any other emergency worker is abhorrent and should never be seen as a part of the role they perform for the public.
“We are not satisfied that the legal system treats these matters with the severity they deserve and are calling for a holistic review of sentencing guidelines and legislative changes to protect our officers and those other public servants who daily work for the benefit of the communities they serve.”
Chief Constable Sara Thornton CBE QPM, Chair of the National Police Chief’s Council, said: “We should never say that being injured is an occupational hazard. Of course police officers always walk into danger when others are walking away but that doesn’t mean we think assaults are acceptable.
“As chief constables, we have a responsibility to make sure officers are properly equipped for protection. But we also have a responsibility to make sure that, if they are assaulted, they get the right support from their force and do our very best to prosecute the perpetrators.”
Notes to editors
*This is based on the Police Federation of England and Wales’ welfare survey data that suggests there were potentially more than two million (2,113,602) unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12 month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon during the same period.
The results are from further analysis from last years’ Officer Demand, Capacity, and Welfare Survey, undertaken by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) last year. Approximately 17,000 officers completed the online survey. The campaign by the Police Federation of England and Wales to Protect The Protectors starts in earnest on 6 February and is just one area where the organisation is seeking a change in legislation so that officers who are assaulted in the course of their duties are afforded better protection. More information can be found at www.polfed.org/assaults
There will be a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament on Tuesday 7 February 2017, approx. 12.30pm, presented by Ms Lynch.
The Police Federation of England and Wales, represents almost 122,000 police officers up to and including the rank of Chief Inspector. Established by statute, it is responsible not only for the welfare of our members, but also ensuring that their views on all aspects of policing, including relevant legislation, are relayed to government, opinion formers and key stakeholders. The Police Federation’s membership status currently stands at 98%. For more information visit www.polfed.org