Assaults on emergency service workers increase


PUBLISHED 04 Jun 2021

IN News

Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom is reiterating calls for the courts to use their full sentencing powers in cases involving assaults on police and other emergency service workers.

Liz was commenting after new crime figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) showed a 26 per rise in assaults against emergency workers. The increase is thought to be driven by an upturn in common assaults on the police, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.

“It is shocking to think that these attacks on officers and other emergency service workers have increased at a time when they are on the frontline of the nation’s response to the pandemic,” Liz says.

“It is unacceptable at any time but somehow it seems even worse that people are prepared to attack the very workers who are trying to help their communities by maintaining essential services despite the risks they face in terms of contracting the virus while doing their jobs.

“The courts now have tougher sentences available to them when dealing with those responsible for these assaults and they must use their full sentencing powers. These assaults have to stop.”

National Police Federation chair John Apter has also responded to the release of the figures.

He explained: “This increased level of violence is not just a one-off. It is becoming the new norm which is completely unacceptable. Violence in our society is not just a policing issue, all parts of Government and society itself must work together to combat this alarming increase.

“Part of this is ensuring those responsible for attacking police officers face a suitable deterrent in court. The sentencing guidelines have been changed, so we need 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.”

The latest crime figures cover the four-week period ending 11 April 2021 and are compared with the equivalent period in 2019, rather than 2020. This is to allow comparisons with a more normal time-period, since the national lockdown in place at the same time last year (2020) was associated with notable reductions in demands on the police.

NPCC chair Martin Hewitt commented: “The fall across most of these figures, compared to 2019, shows that we’re still seeing the impact of lockdown, despite the further easing of restrictions in May. That said, we are anticipating crime levels to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months, as we did across the summer in 2020.”

He added: “The number of assaults against emergency workers continues to show a troubling rise. This is unacceptable. We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the frontline. Officers and staff are out in communities, working in challenging circumstances, and I am grateful for their continued hard work.”