Assaults on emergency workers go up

A 26 per cent increase in assaults on emergency workers is just another example of the courts must give out tougher to those responsible for these attacks, according to Gwent Police Federation secretary Annalea Kift.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published the statistics, which cover England and Wales, yesterday. The increase is thought to be driven by an upturn in common assaults on the police, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.

“It saddens and disappoints me to have to say it again but we cannot continue to allow police officers and other emergency workers to be used as society’s punchbags,” says Annalea.

“While crime has generally decreased during the various lockdowns, this increase in these types of assaults is a stark reminder of the dangers emergency workers face as they go about their duties, seeking to serve and protect the public.

“Throughout the pandemic, police officers and other emergency service workers have been on the frontline, regardless of the risks to their health the virus represents and those who attack them must feel the full weight of the law.”

National Police Federation chair John Apter has also responded to the release of the figures.

He explained: “This increased level of violence is not just a one-off. It is becoming the new norm which is completely unacceptable. Violence in our society is not just a policing issue, all parts of Government and society itself must work together to combat this alarming increase.

“Part of this is ensuring those responsible for attacking police officers face a suitable deterrent in court. The sentencing guidelines have been changed, so we need judges and magistrates to use these powers to set an example to those who are assaulting our colleagues, those responsible must spend time in prison. This unjustified violence is a stain on society and needs to be dealt with robustly.”

The latest crime figures cover the four-week period ending 11 April 2021 and are compared with the equivalent period in 2019, rather than 2020. This is to allow comparisons with a more normal time period, since the national lockdown in place at the same time last year (2020) was associated with notable reductions in demands on the police.

NPCC chair Martin Hewitt commented: “The fall across most of these figures, compared to 2019, shows that we’re still seeing the impact of lockdown, despite the further easing of restrictions in May. That said, we are anticipating crime levels to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months, as we did across the summer in 2020.”

He added: “The number of assaults against emergency workers continues to show a troubling rise. This is unacceptable. We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the frontline. Officers and staff are out in communities, working in challenging circumstances, and I am grateful for their continued hard work.”