137 Officers Assaulted Every Day In UK

There needs to be a change in the law and a shift in attitudes towards the police, South Yorkshire Police Federation has said, as it emerged that an average of 137 officers were assaulted every day in the UK.

Last year, there were 50,259 assaults on UK officers – 40,330 in England and Wales, 6,657 in Scotland, and 3,272 in Northern Ireland. That equates to one officer being assaulted every 10 minutes.

South Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Steve Kent said: “I’ve been banging the drum for years to say there needs to be an automatic prison sentence for any assault involving an injury against a police officer or our emergency service colleagues.

“Until that message gets out there – and people understand the risk of assaulting officers – it’s going to continue happening.”

He added that it didn’t help that there was a “hostile atmosphere” around policing at the moment, saying: “I think that certain portions of the media and the Government undermine the hard work of police officers and give a false narrative about police officers being corrupt. That adds up to a feeling of almost subtle permission. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the press is advocating that people assault police officers, but the public might think everybody hates the police, so no one’s going to care if I assault one.

“So we need to see the headline mandatory figures to say that if you assault an officer and injure them, you’re going to go to prison. People will definitely think twice then, because of the automatic consequences. And we need to start to see some support for police officers. I’ve never known a time when there’s been such a hostile atmosphere towards policing.”

It was shocking that an officer was assaulted every 10 minutes, Steve said, but many national media outlets were not reporting this: “They tend not to want to show anything that shows the plight of police officers. It’s almost like we are society’s punch bag now.”

Steve said he was seeing more officers who had been assaulted or had a near miss coming to the Federation office. He said: “There may well be an element that people are more empowered to report assaults now, but there’s no two ways about it, assaults on officers are increasing. And the general nature of assaults is also becoming more serious. Until there’s legislative change and an attitude change nationally, I don’t think we’re going to see this rise dampened any time soon. It’s not acceptable that our officers have to put up with it.”