Assaults on Metropolitan police officers have risen by a shocking 17%. The Havering Daily obtained figures from the Met police that show that 7,026 police officers were victims of assault last year in the capital, that works out as 19 officers a day injured on our streets. Even more horrifying is that nearly 50% of these assaults resulted in some degree of injury to that officer.
These figures are a real eye opener for the capital’s communities as we can see just how much our officers are under attack, doing their job and most importantly keeping us safe during a time when not only are we in the midst of a pandemic but also on the highest threat level our country could face.
Perhaps now is the time to remind ourselves that these officers face a high risk of catching this killer virus as they work on the frontline but also put themselves in the line of danger if an attack did take place.
The Havering Daily spoke to Superintendent Gerry Parker, Head of Response Policing at East Area BCU.
“There could be a multitude of reasons why there is an increase in assaults, but what is clear is assaults on Police officers and staff are increasing.The impact of these assault should not be underestimated and we have good recording processes to ensure we understand the issue fully.”
Last year we saw the start of the pandemic and when the first lock downs began. As these lock downs have increased, officers have faced challenges from groups protesting against the lockdowns and as usual, it is the police that are always on the frontline.
Mr Parker continued: “We are very grateful to the vast majority of people who have, and continue to comply with Covid legislation . Many members of the public have been hugely generous and respectful towards our officers and staff.
“However a small minority think it acceptable to assault them . Unfortunately we have seen despicable examples of people spitting, coughing and biting, which is entirely unacceptable at any time and made worse by the current coronavirus pandemic . Officers have had to deal with a wide range of issues including public order, unlawful parties and protest.
“Legislation means that where appropriate offenders are dealt with under the assault on emergency worker legislation. A priority is also ensuring the management of officer and staff welfare and recovery, ensuring through Operation Hampshire & other Employee Assisted Programmes and referrals, that each of our officers and staff are indeed receiving the care, support and follow up to aid their recovery after assault.
“This includes managing their mental health as well as their physical well-being.”
Mr Parker added: “We will not tolerate attacks on any of our officers or other emergency service workers and we will investigate these offences diligently and work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to bring offenders to justice.
“The penalties available to magistrates or judges are clearly defined in statute and judicial guidelines.
“Magistrates take assault against emergency workers seriously; particularly demonstrated nationally in recent months when custodial sentences have been issued for spitting at front line workers during the pandemic.”
Superintendent Parker finished by saying: “Assaults on our officers and staff is unacceptable and every police officer has the right to go about the duty without fear of assault.
“Each and every one of them has family and friends, who hope to see them safe at the end of their duty. Assaults on our officers and indeed other emergency service workers is appalling, and where occurs, will result in due process and prosecution through judicial process.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of the public for supporting our officers in the work they are doing to safeguard our local communities, during these difficult and unprecedented times. Those that choose to assault our staff can expect to be apprehended and brought to justice”