Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom is repeating calls for more to be done to tackle officer assaults with more offenders prosecuted.
Nearly 500 police Cambridgeshire Police officers were assaulted in the course of their duties in the year to March 2021, according to Home Office figures.
The data is likely to be understated due to the number of assaults that go unreported and shows that there were 73 incidents which included injury to a constable and 419 low level assaults without injury, 492 in total.
It comes on the heels of the Federation’s recent pay and morale survey which found that 93 per cent of Cambridgeshire police officers do not feel fairly paid for the stresses and strains of their job and nearly half are worrying about money every day.
Liz explained: “Every day, our brave police officers put on the uniform and give their all to serve their communities and save lives. It is appalling that they should be attacked for nothing more than doing their job – it is completely unacceptable. The Federation will continue to push for these crimes to be treated seriously and the offenders prosecuted.
“My colleagues are really struggling with the cost of living and the stresses of a highly demanding job. To be assaulted as well is just rubbing salt into the wounds.”
Cambridgeshire Constabulary reported an increase of 121 per cent with 128 attacks recorded in the first quarter of 2021, up from 58 in 2020 and 41 in 2019.
Chief Constable Nick Dean told the media recently that the increase assaults is likely due to a rise in mental health problems over the pandemic, the reopening of the night time economy and increasing numbers of protests over issues like climate change and Black Lives Matter.
He said: “Here in Cambridgeshire, we probably have around about one assault to a police officer or police staff per day. The nature of assault can really range from very serious to what we can class as lower-tier assaults such as being pushed or kicked, or what is very prevalent – being spat at. None of that, at any level, is acceptable within policing.”
Mr Dean told the Press Association about PC Leo Clarke, who was just 18 months into his career when was assaulted so badly that he suffered a bleed on the brain, which left him needing an operation.
The young officer, who was 24 at the time of the assault, was attacked by a man in the grips of a mental health crisis and suffered several blows to the head. Later, at Thorpe Wood Police Station he started to feel unwell and required emergency surgery.
His attacker admitted causing grievous bodily harm without intent and was sentenced 20 months at Peterborough Crown Court, while PC Clarke was later nominated for a Police Federation bravery award.
Mr Dean said: “There’s no prouder moment as a chief than to welcome new officers into the organisation. But when you see sometime later – in this officer’s case a very short time later – that they have encountered a violent incident as a result, then it does have an impact.
“It has an impact on the officer, it has an impact on their family and friends, and I have to say it has an impact upon the organisation. From the feedback from the community, it has an impact on them too.”
Overall, there were almost 37,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales (including British Transport) during 2021 which was a 21 per cent increase in crimes of “assault without injury on a constable” and 1.2 per cent rise of crimes which resulted in injury.