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West Mercia region bucks trend over attacks on police

By Dominic Robertson | Crime | Published:

The number of assaults on officers dropped in West Mercia last year, despite a national surge in attacks.

An urgent review into police safety has been launched, with the Police Federation of England and Wales saying the attacks are “completely unacceptable”, and calling for a wider roll-out of Tasers.

Home Office data shows that 514 assaults on officers were recorded by West Mercia Police in 2018-19, compared to 579 during the previous year.

In Powys there were 92 assaults where officers were injured in the last year, in comparison to 51 during the previous year.

West Mercia bucked the trend across England and Wales, where assaults on officers increased 18 per cent during the period, to almost 31,000.

But the Home Office said the figures are likely to underestimate the total number of assaults in some forces, as many officers see it as part of the job, and do not report them.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Officers should not have to face assault but we know there are risks in standing up to criminals and protecting our communities.

“Training, teamwork and public support give them the confidence to face those risks.

“I have commissioned an end-to-end review of officer safety – from training, to equipment, to the criminal justice outcomes when an officer is assaulted.”

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Of the total, West Mercia Police recorded 184 assaults resulting in injury in 2018-19, and 330 without injury.

Both types of assault went up across England and Wales during the period.

Unacceptable

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “The rise in assaults on our officers is completely unacceptable and must never be seen as just part of the job.

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“The recent surge of serious, high-profile attacks is a serious concern, and the Federation will continue to push for a wider roll-out of Tasers, supporting all frontline officers who want to carry one in passing the required assessments to do so.

“It is not a nice-to-have device – it is an essential piece of kit, which without doubt has saved the lives of officers and the public.”

But Mr Apter added that Tasers were only part of the solution, and that society must not tolerate such behaviour towards the police.

Last year, Parliament passed a new law to double the maximum sentence for assault against emergency workers from six to 12 months.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Being attacked should never be part of the job for our courageous police officers, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us.

“We are working with forces to recruit 20,000 more police officers over the next three years, and are committed to ensuring they have the resources, tools and powers they need to keep themselves and the public safe.”

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