Protect the Protectors
Today marks the launch of our national campaign to ‘Protect The Protectors’ calling for better protection for police officers.
The campaign will call for:
a change in legislation, leading to tougher sentences for those who assault emergency service workers
better training and access to equipment – wider roll-out of protection measures, such as Taser, body worn video and spit guards
more accurate data on police assaults
improved welfare support.
Nationally and at a local level, via the Federation’s Parliamentary Working Group, work has been ongoing to raise serious concerns around police assaults and new figures estimate that an assault on a police officer happens every four minutes*.
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.
This week is an important launch pad for the campaign when there will be a Ten Minute Rule Bill on the issue presented in Parliament by Ms Lynch tomorrow, Tuesday 7 February. PFEW representatives will be in attendance and this follows a pre-event at Parliament last week.
Calum Macleod, PFEW Vice-Chair, 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 work daily for the benefit of the communities they serve."
The campaign will develop, 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.
PC Mike Bruce and PC Alan O’Shea, of West Midlands Police, will also be at Parliament tomorrow, recounting the assault they faced and the impact it had - while arresting two men in a pub, both officers were spat at and faced an agonising six-month wait to find out if they had contracted HIV or hepatitis.
Also attending tomorrow is West Yorkshire officer PC Dan McLaughlin who was assaulted by a man resisting arrest - during the struggle, PC McLaughlin was hit a number of times over the head with his own police radio.
Chief Constable Sara Thornton CBE QPM, Chair of the National Police Chiefs' 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."
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.
*'Assaults' include offenders struggling to get free, wrestling, hitting, kicking or spitting at officers
The estimates are based on our Officer Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey