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Chiefs urged to review assaults as attacks top 100-a-day

Fed leaders have called for forces to work out why more officers are being assaulted after new data revealed attacks are happening at 100 a day.

Forces have been urged to look again at officer assaults to work out why there has been a significant increase in attacks.

The call from Fed leaders followed publication of Home Office figures showing across the 43 forces, there were almost 37,000 assaults in the year to March 2021 - which equates to just over 100 a day.

More than half of these (25,734) were crimes of “assault without injury on a constable”, which is thought to be due to offenders weaponising Covid-19 by spitting and coughing.

The Metropolitan Police Federation revealed 6,419 of their officers were assaulted last year - more than 123 every week.

They said: “That's 1,106 more assaults on our officers than the previous financial year.”

The Police Federation’s Chair John Apter said: “Throughout the pandemic we have witnessed police officers being subjected to a disgusting level of violence. We now have figures to prove just how dire the situation has been for my colleagues on the ground."

Chief Constables were also urged to publish their follow up to the use of force report led by Kent Chief Constable Alun Pughsley.

His force’s Fed Chair, Neil Mennie, said: “It’s due and we need to know what recommendations there are.”

He added there needed to be clarity on what is driving the increase in attacks.

He told Police Oracle: “We need to know why this is happening and work out how we counter it. Is it more kit? Is it better kit? Is it better training? Is it single crewing? Perhaps it’s a reluctance over use of force because of a fear of being investigated. What is it?"

“We know there are a lot of new joiners. Use of force is an individual decision and as unpalatable as it may be, there are times when it is appropriate. And when that decision is made, that should be supported,” he added.

Mr Mennie also called for the courts to step up after the conviction of two men who punched, bit and kicked an officer. One was given a suspended sentence.

As an officer attempted to detain Robbie Booth in a vehicle, David Hilden approached from behind and punched his face.

Hilden, assisted by Booth, then continued to violently assault the officer who suffered facial injuries caused by bites.

The injured officer was taken to hospital for treatment to facial lacerations and bruising.

Hilden and Booth pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court on 5 May 2021, to ABH and possession of cannabis.

Hilden, aged 22, was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment and Booth, aged 23, received a one year prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

Deputy Area Commander, Superintendent Jon Kirby, said: “This was a brutal and cowardly assault on an officer by two men who thought they could avoid being arrested.

"However, they were swiftly tracked down by patrols responding to assist their injured colleague, who I am pleased to say is back at work serving the public.”

Mr Mennie said courts had to be part of the solution by imposing tougher sentences – especially when increased tariffs become available.

The government is doubling the sentence for attacks on emergency workers to two years but Mr Mennie said it was down to courts to ensure the full tariffs were used.

He said: “This situation can’t be allowed to continue. It is demoralising for officers involved and their colleagues. We pride ourselves in putting offenders before the courts but that’s where it goes out of our control. They have to act.”

His concerns were echoed by John Apter: “The sentencing guidelines have been changed and I would urge 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.”

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