Suffolk: Number of assaults on police officers doubles in a year

A SOCIETY increasingly prepared to resort to violence allied to a drop in Suffolk police numbers have led to assaults on officers doubling in a year, it has been claimed.

Suffolk Constabulary figures show attacks on officers, which were recorded as crimes, increased from 37 in 2010/11 to 73 in 2011/12.

The number of police who were seriously injured rose from three to eight over the same period.

In addition reported assaults on officers, special constables, or police community support officers, which were not recorded as crimes, rose by 20% from 271 to 327.

Suffolk Police Federation believes the steep rises reflect the changing nature of society and the consequences of Government cash cutbacks, which has led to a reduction in officer numbers.

It claims the decrease means that on occasions if there are not enough officers able to attend the scene of a potentially violent incident, a suspect or suspects may be more inclined towards assaulting police.

However, the federation also recognised Suffolk Constabulary does as much as it can to prepare its members for the risks they face.

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Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: “It is a great concern to us. Our members are facing these dangers and are being assaulted on a more frequent basis.

“We feel it can not be avoided, and that reducing the numbers of police officers and the increasing number of assaults are connected.

“From our perspective the force are offering the best officer safety training available. However, the job is becoming increasingly violent or members of the public are offering increasing levels of violence.

“There is not a magic wand to wave at this point. However, we all know the certainty of being caught is the greatest deterrent for people who commit these type of offences.”

Suffolk police stressed it does as much as it can to protect its officers by giving them a range of skills to deal with difficult situations.

Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for the force, said: “Policing is a physically demanding job, with officers placing themselves in challenging situations on a daily basis, in order to protect others.

“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.

“Additionally a common thread throughout all their training is the correct way to calm situations and improve their communication skills to prevent such an assault from taking place in the first place.”

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