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Op Hampshire stage two: recording death, serious injury and suicides

Operation Hampshire currently has a focus on recording more data on officer assaults to better inform prevention and mitigation strategies.

The second phase of Operation Hampshire will see data collated on officer deaths, serious injuries and suicides. 

This is part of a wider move to record more data on officer assaults and injuries as a way of understanding the national picture and putting better mitigation and preventative strategies in place. 

The second phase will be set up on the same app as that which records officer assaults - with the plan being for it to be operational by early 2023 and ready to be trialled by forces. 

Service director of the National Police Wellbeing Service, Andy Rhodes, told Police Oracle that it will work as a separate set of questions much in the same way the first phase has. 

The app was officially launched in March and is “trickling” it’s way through forces. It is available for all forces to download from the PDS solutions catalogue. 

Microsoft, in partnership with Agilisys, built the first phase of the app at no cost to the service. The second phase will be funded by Oscar Kilo, the College of Policing and the Police Covenant. 

Mr Rhodes said: “We’ve got to keep the first phase quick and simple for a line manager to do for example at three o’clock in the morning. 

“We’re starting to see more and more forces adopting the app which means we will be able to build up a really good picture of what assaults are looking like nationally. We recognise that we’ve not got an accurate picture of that yet.”

Currently, government data categorises assaults on officers as “assault without injury” or “assault with injury”. Op Hampshire is designed to collect more specific data - who was punched, bitten, kicked, spat on for example as well as data on locations and scenarios. 

The latest figures, covering the year ending March 2021, showed a 21 per cent increase in assaults without injury compared with the previous year and a 1.2 per cent increase in assaults with injury. 

It’s something Mr Rhodes puts down to more awareness through Op Hampshire as well as crime recording standards.

He added, however, that a Chief in Lancashire has noticed a developing problem of people being more likely to participate in the lower levels of assault and abuse - which may be another factor.

He said: “When we’re talking about assaults without injury, these are still assaults, still criminal offences.

"Quite often it’s the case that people have normalised it and see it as part of the job. Also, often an assault would only be without injury but for the grace of God. 

“The level of injury is not always reflective of the level of violence.” 

Mr Rhodes spoke to Police Oracle of the launch of a new campaign under Operation Hampshire - a short film voiced by TV presenter and former Met and BTP officer Rav Wilding. 

The film is designed to encourage a clearer understanding of Op Hampshire and the impact of assaults. While available on Oscar Kilo’s website, it's also designed to be used by forces within training.

However, a further target audience could be magistrates, with Mr Rhodes offering a recent example where he worked with a group of London magistrates’ on raising awareness of officer assaults.

It’s possible that the video could now be used within magistrates’ training and refresher training sessions. “We have got very positive engagement with partners in the Criminal Justice System,” he added. 

“What we’re trying to make sure is they’re able to back us up, within the law, to make sure the proper legislation is applied properly and the proper sanctions given. 

“I don’t think we’ve got anybody in the Criminal Justice System saying they don’t want to do it, but it is true that there’s massive pressure right now with all cases going through.” 

As for changes that have already come about from Op Hampshire data, Mr Rhodes said certain forces are using it to influence refresher and initial training sessions for staff safety. 

If for example, lower limb injuries are the most prevalent form of assault in certain areas then officers with access to that information can better equip themselves with tactics. 

A further area is the design of custody suites - where forces can work with construction companies in the design of new suites - implementing mechanisms like having staff book in on a higher level that those being booked in, or designing suites so that the booking area is not an open area that people frequently walk through. 

Mr Rhodes said: “The Assaults on Emergency Workers Act has come in and been legislated for a reason.

"That's because we in this country believe and the government believes that those people are working to keep us safe, whether paramedics, police officers, people in A&E deserve to have the right amount of protection from assaults.

"It's not something that we should sleepwalk into accepting as the norm, that they [emergency workers] get assaulted.” 

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