Police attacked 'nearly every day'
A POLICE officer has been assaulted in Suffolk and Essex nearly every day for the past five years, it has been revealed. But last night forces in both counties said they had seen improvements with the number of working days lost through injury on the decline.
A POLICE officer has been assaulted in Suffolk and Essex nearly every day for the past five years, it has been revealed.
But last night forces in both counties said they had seen improvements with the number of working days lost through injury on the decline.
The figures were released yesterday in a study by Grant Shapps, Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield, in Hertfordshire.
According to his report there were 1,648 assaults on frontline police officers in Suffolk between 2002 and 2006, compared to 1,708 in Essex.
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Jim Keeble, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said a high number of assaults on officers was a national trend.
“Our concern is the level of violence experienced,” he said. “There is now a propensity, especially among those between 15 and 25 years of age, to carry knives or a bladed weapon despite high profile amnesties.
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“Compared to elsewhere it is rare in Suffolk but it does happen. It's a concern not just for the police but for all emergency services. The question is where does the deterrent lay? The punishment needs to be enough so that it becomes as socially unacceptable as drink driving.”
According to the figures there were 238 assaults on police officers in Suffolk last year, compared to 327 in 2005 and 400 in 2004.
Meanwhile, in Essex there were 312 assaults in 2006, compared to 424 in the year before and 388 in the year before that.
A spokesperson for Suffolk police said since 2000/01 the amount of working days lost as a result of the injury had plummeted by 37%, from 751 to 473 in 2006/07.
“Better training facilities and more protective equipment has had an impact on the figures,” she said. “Officers receive regular personal safety training. It has also become compulsory for officers to wear body armour.
“Every member of the constabulary who deals with potentially difficult situations where it could turn violent receives training.
“Conflict-management skills are a big part of this training. The majority of incidents officers go to are not physical. It's about good communication.”
An Essex Police spokeswoman said the force had also seen a “significant dip” in working days lost through injury.
“But an assault on anyone is a serious offence, and any person who commits an assault on police officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) or members of police staff will be actively pursued and prosecuted,” she said. “We are extremely conscious of making sure the relevant support is available to our staff and we have effective systems and procedures in place when they are injured, which are continually reviewed.”