Protecting our members against assaults and campaigning for the courts to impose harsher and more consistent sentences to those convicted of assaulting police officers are national priorities.
We are campaigning for:
a change in legislation
better training and access to equipment
more accurate data on police assaults
improved welfare support.
Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, physical and verbal assaults on police officers are commonplace. Incidents are often under-reported and historically it has been difficult to determine the scale of the issue and national picture. Previously it’s been estimated that more than 23,000 officers are assaulted every year, but now estimations based on our latest welfare survey data suggest that there were potentially more than 2 million (2,113,602) unarmed physical assaults on officers over 12 months, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon during the same period.
What is the Police Federation doing?
We are working with MPs to press for a change in legislation, leading to tougher sentences for those who assault police officers – being assaulted should not just be considered as an occupational hazard or ‘part of the job’.
In particular, we are working closely with Halifax MP Holly Lynch (Labour) who is leading the calls in Parliament for tougher sentencing for those who assault police and other emergency workers. The seriousness of the dangers facing police was brought home to her when she accompanied a single-crewed officer on patrol in her constituency and had to dial 999 after he came under attack.
A review of sentencing for those convicted of assaulting police officers has been called for as too often sentences being passed do not adequately reflect the seriousness of the offence. One example of a derisory sentence is 20 months in jail which was handed to an offender for throwing acid on a Bradford sergeant.
The campaign also seeks more consistent reporting of assaults on police – as these are currently vastly under reported. We are calling for better training and access to equipment such as body worn video, Taser and spit guards as well as improved welfare support for assaulted officers.
Vice Chair, Calum Macleod, said: “Police officers face extraordinary situations and risks every day and these can often happen in the blink of an eye. Quite simply an assault on a police officer or any other emergency worker is abhorrent and should never be seen as a part of the role they perform for the public.
“We are not satisfied that the legal system treats these matters with the severity they deserve and are calling for a holistic review of sentencing guidelines and legislative changes to protect our officers and those other public servants who daily work for the benefit of the communities they serve.”
The harsh realities of what police officers endure in the course of protecting the public, and the toll this can exact on their physical and mental wellbeing, are told in the case studies below and in the right-hand menu.