Rise in assaults on police

By Craig Robinson and Danielle NuttallCOURTS have been urged to get tough on people who attack police after new figures revealed the number of assaults on officers was on course for a 30% rise.

By Craig Robinson and Danielle Nuttall

COURTS have been urged to get tough on people who attack police after new figures revealed the number of assaults on officers was on course for a 30% rise.

Suffolk police has recorded 208 assaults on its officers since April and, if the incidents continue at the same rate for the next six months, they will have risen by 30% on the figures for the financial year 2003/4.

The figures were released yesterday as part of Suffolk police's six-monthly performance plan.

But the East Anglian Daily Times has learned the number of assaults on officers has more than doubled over the past four years.

There were 320 assaults between April 2003 and April 2004, compared to 197 reported between 2002-2003, 166 between 2001-2002 and 151 between 2000-2001.

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The figures have led to calls for more to be done to punish people who assault officers and to deter would-be assailants.

Liz Pettman, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: “Although I cannot say why there has been this rise without looking at the precise breakdown of the figures, I will say that I am always concerned when an officer is attacked.

“As far as solutions go, I think we would be looking to the courts for support. When an assault of an officer does make it to the courtroom, then it is up to them to give the correct sentence to deter people from such behaviour.”

She added: “Certainly from our point of view at the federation we haven't seen an increase in the type of assaults that might lead to compensation claims, which would be the more serious incidents.

“That is not to say I'm not worried about the findings. Of course I am because the number of assaults seems to have doubled in the last four years. It's always a worry when any police officer is attacked, no matter how minor the incident might be.”

Suffolk police spokesman, Simon Stevens, said the figures referred to minor assaults on police officers.

“Assaults which lead to an injury are recorded separately under the appropriate category, such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm,” he added.

“The rise in figures can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the more vigorous crime recording processes introduced by forces nationwide, which embraces more of the minor crimes previously not recorded.

“Also, Suffolk now has the highest number of frontline police officers in its history and these officers are involved in proactively tackling violent crime and disorder in public places across the county.”

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