Increase in attacks on emergency workers

Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair Gareth Jones has once again called on the courts to make use of their full sentencing powers when dealing with those who have assaulted police and other emergency service workers.

Gareth spoke out after new crime figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) showed a 26 per rise in assaults against emergency workers. 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.

“We have been seeing these statistics increase for some time and this is why the Police Federation has successfully campaigned for courts to be given the option to impose longer custodial sentences for those convicted of these attacks,” says Gareth.

“But, of course, these sentences will only actually be effective, both as a punishment and a deterrent to others, if the courts actually use them so I hope we start to see fewer people getting away with little more than a reprimand.

“Police officers, and other emergency workers, have been at the forefront of the nation’s reponse to the pandemic, putting their health on the line and yet we still have some individuals who seem to think that they can use them as punchbags.”

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.”