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'Officer assaulted every four minutes'

Figures released yesterday reveal the horrific extent and frequency of assaults on police officers.

The statistics, based on the Police Federation of England and Wales' welfare survey data, suggest there were more than two million (2,113,602) unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon during the same period.

This means:

  • There were a total of 2,416,445 attacks
  • There were 40,009 injuries due to violence
  • An assault happens every four minutes.

Tiff Lynch, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, says: "These figures are alarming. We have known for some time that more and more officers are being assaulted as they go about their duties, fighting crime, keeping order and protecting their communities.

"Sadly, many officers have started to consider being assaulted as part of the job but it is not. An attack on a police officer is an attack on society and those found guilty of these assaults should face the full force of the law with sentences fitting the crime."

The Federation says it has been difficult to determine the actual number of police officers assaulted every year; much of this being down to what data has been used, taking into consideration inconsistencies and a variety of recording processes in forces across England and Wales.

Incidents are also often under-reported, further contributing to an incomplete national picture on what is a growing concern, it argues.

Up until now, the Federation has said there have been an estimated 23,000 police officers assaulted every year but these new figures present the stark reality of the job and what officers have to deal with.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "We always knew that 23,000, whilst bad enough, was not the true picture but 2.4 million is beyond anyone's expectations and totally unacceptable.

"Officers are out there doing a job in extremely difficult circumstances - this brings a whole new dimension to the very real dangers they are facing.

"Without question, an assault of any kind should never be considered 'part of the job'.

"First and foremost, our officers should be afforded the support they need and deserve and this means that they are treated the same way as any other victim of crime and that those who attack police officers are not dealt with lightly.

"In addition, the Government needs to take action on these figures. Assaults on police officers and their colleagues in the emergency services are an utter disgrace and should not be tolerated."

The Home Office is working with the Federation to verify and publish consistent data on assaults going forward.

The figures released yesterday come from further analysis of the Federation's Officer Demand, Capacity, and Welfare Survey.