'Vile' attacks on police officers in Suffolk jump by 265% in just three years
SUFFOLK POLICE FEDERATION
A police union boss has condemned a spike in ‘vile’ attacks on officers in Suffolk as latest figures reveal a 265% rise in more violent assaults.
Incidents where police officers reported being kicked, punched, bitten and spat at – categorised as assaults without injury – climbed from 193 in 2016 to 281 last year, according to statistics released to this newspaper.
Meanwhile assaults with injury reported to the force’s Health and Safety department – where victims were left with broken bones, cuts, deep lacerations and black eyes – more than tripled from 34 in 2014 to 124 in 2017.
Suffolk Police Federation chairman Darren Harris said: “There has been a rise in attacks on police officers in the last few years.
“Any assault on a police officer is horrific – being spat at is one of the most vile things that can ever happen to you.
“All of these attacks are vile. If you think about how many frontline police officers we have, and we’ve had a reduction in recent years, there is about 450 at the moment I would say.
“So with the assault without injury figures for 2017, you’re looking at one in two – so 50% – of frontline officers being assaulted.
“That’s also only the ones that are being reported, there could be more.
With the statistics for the assault with injury, it was 34, so that’s a huge rise from 2014 to 2017 essentially, which is shocking but not news to us unfortunately.”
The data, retrieved using a Freedom of Information request, may contain a small fraction of duplications across the two categories, police said.
Mr Harris said the increase may be down to a lack of deterrent – but hopes the recent Protect the Protectors campaign in Parliament to bring in new safety measures for blue light workers, more training and body cameras may change things.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said: “Any attack on any of our police officers is utterly deplorable and there is no excuse for this sort of behaviour in any circumstances.
“People need to remember the police are only doing their job, to keep everybody in Suffolk safe.
“Part of my role as is to make sure officers get proper training and equipment such as spit hoods and body cameras which I think are a great asset for them.
He added: “We will continue to support them in this way.
“I would also like to say on behalf of the public how deeply grateful we are for all that they do.”
Police chiefs said they deplore any type of attacks on their officers or members of staff.
A spokesman for the force said: “Our frontline officers do sometimes have to face dangerous situations and confront violent people in the course of their duties, however we deplore any type of assault on police officers or members of staff.
“Part of their role is to support, work with and protect the public and we will take action against those people who attack officers and staff to secure a prosecution and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Officers receive extensive training to reduce the likelihood of them being victims of assault.
“As part of their initial training they receive guidance which includes tactical communications training, how to position themselves at an incident to minimise the risk of harm and how to use all their personal safety equipment appropriately.”