National Federation chair John Apter is calling for an offence of using a vehicle as a weapon to be introduced after an increase in the number of such attacks against officers.
John says current legislation does not offer the protection that officers need, and says that a change in the law is a Federation priority.
“We have seen the increased use of vehicles against police officers, involving ramming or the use of vehicles to mow down police officers and staff,” said John, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).
“Current laws don’t fully capture the gravity of such an offence. On one extreme you have attempted murder: on the other it is dangerous driving.
“There must be a specific offence of using a vehicle in this way to cause harm to others.
“This is something I’ve discussed with the NPCC and raised with the Home Office to see how we can offer as much protection to officers as possible.
“We are pushing to see an addition in the Police Powers and Protections Bill early next year to provide the change in law needed.”
The safety of police officers was a theme running through John’s answers in a Q & A feature published on the national Federation website at polfed.org
There were 30,000 assaults against officers in the past year, a rise of more than five per cent, and John says the Federation is campaigning to make policing safer for all members heading into 2021.
He said: “These figures come as no surprise. Every time statistics come out, they show there’s been an increase in the number of officers who have been assaulted.
“Any assault on an officer is totally unacceptable and to see the number increasing is extremely concerning.
“Combatting violence against police officers is at the top of the Federation’s agenda – and mine.
“PFEW has done a lot of work on this and continues to do so – whether that is the Protect the Protectors campaign to pushing for a Police Covenant to provide better protections for officers.”
John said a wider roll-out of the use of Taser can help in the protection of officers, and of the public.
“I know of countless occasions when Taser has without doubt saved the lives of officers and members of the public,” he said, “In many cases, it has prevented officers from having to use greater force.
“I know that Taser is contentious for some, but I would ask them – what’s the alternative? PFEW supports a much wider roll-out of Taser and I firmly believe every officer who wants to carry one – and we know many do – should have access.”
John said the Federation will continue to push for tougher sentences to deter attacks on emergency services personnel.
He said: “The Federation’s Protect the Protectors’ campaign successfully brought about the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which saw the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker increased from six to 12 months and, this year, the bringing forward of a new law to increase that maximum from 12 months to two years.
“In addition to this, we’ve also been lobbying the Sentencing Council to make sure this two-year maximum is fully utilised to deter attacks on blue light workers.”