Combatting violence against officers is top of Federation’s agenda

National chair John Apter says the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) will continue to campaign for tough sentences to deter attacks on officers.

There were 30,000 assaults against officers in the past year, a rise of more than five per cent, and John says the Federation is determined to make policing safer for members.

“These figures come as no surprise,” he said, “Every time statistics come out, they show there’s been an increase in the number of officers who have been assaulted.

“Any assault on an officer is totally unacceptable and to see the number increasing is extremely concerning.

“Combatting violence against police officers is at the top of the Federation’s agenda – and mine.

“PFEW has done a lot of work on this and continues to do so – whether that is the Protect the Protectors campaign to pushing for a Police Covenant to provide better protections for officers.”

He added: “The Federation’s Protect the Protectors’ campaign successfully brought about the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which saw the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker increased from six to 12 months and, this year, the bringing forward of a new law to increase that maximum from 12 months to two years.

“In addition to this, we’ve also been lobbying the Sentencing Council to make sure this two-year maximum is fully utilised to deter attacks on blue light workers.”

John’s comments came in a Q & A session, featured on the national Federation website in which he highlighted the Federation’s campaigning work to protect members in their jobs.

The session included a call for a specific offence of using a vehicle as a weapon after an increase in the number of such attacks against police officers.

John said current legislation does not offer the protection that officers need, and that there needs to be a change in the law.

“We have seen the increased use of vehicles against police officers, involving ramming or the use of vehicles to mow down police officers and staff,” he explained.

“Current laws don’t fully capture the gravity of such an offence. On one extreme you have attempted murder: on the other it is dangerous driving. There must be a specific offence of using a vehicle in this way to cause harm to others.

“This is something I’ve discussed with the NPCC and raised with the Home Office to see how we can offer as much protection to officers as possible.

“We are pushing to see an addition in the Police Powers and Protections Bill early next year to provide the change in law needed.”

The safety of police officers was a theme running through John’s answers, and included a focus on the value of protective equipment such as Taser and spit guards.

“I know of countless occasions when Taser has without doubt saved the lives of officers and members of the public,” he said, “In many cases, it has prevented officers from having to use greater force.

“I know that Taser is contentious for some, but I would ask them - what’s the alternative? PFEW supports a much wider roll-out of Taser and I firmly believe every officer who wants to carry one - and we know many do - should have access.”

He added: “The Federation has long been campaigning for officers to carry spit guards and I’m glad that as a result of this most officers in England and Wales can now do so.

“I find it staggering there was an initial reluctance from politicians and leaders in policing regarding spit guards when it was obvious they were badly needed.

“It won’t prevent spitting, but it’s another tool in the policing toolbox to protect officers and their families from harm.”

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