Tackling violence against officers is ‘top priority’

National chair John Apter says tackling violence against officers is a top priority of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).

There were 30,000 assaults against officers in the past year, a rise of more than five per cent.

And John says the Federation will campaign hard to make policing safer for all members heading into 2021.

“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.”

John, who was taking part in a question and answer session which has been published on the Federation’s website at polfed.org said the Federation will continue to push for tougher sentences to deter attacks on emergency services personnel.

He said: “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.”

On the theme of attacks on officers, John said he was pleased a Federation campaign around spit guards had been a success.

Assaults in which spitting or coughing is used to attack officers has increased during the pandemic, and John said: “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.”

John called for more protection for officers in attacks in which vehicles are used as weapons.

“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 said.

“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.

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