Police officers put their lives on the line every time they put on their uniform and report to duty, writes our Chair Sarah Johnson.
When they are attacked it is not just an assault on that individual, it is an assault on society as a whole.
Which is why to treat an attack on a police officer as “just another assault” is not enough.
The issue has come to the fore recently in various Parliamentary debates, but it has been a problem for a long time and here in Gloucestershire.
That is why I am inviting all six MPs in the county to speak to me in the next few months to garner their support for our members.
I would like them to come and see first hand the work carried out by the men and women who put their own safety in jeopardy to protect their communities.
We need people to understand how vulnerable our members are at times. Issues with single crewing, poor resourcing and a lack of back-up are only going to get worse as austerity and Government cuts continue.
In remote areas, officers are being made vulnerable by the fact that they are working alone a long way from colleagues. In urban areas, officers are being made vulnerable by the fact that they are working alone and their colleagues are thin on the ground.
The dangers are very real.
There were at least 194 assaults on Gloucestershire Constabulary officers in 2015/16 – according to official figures anyway. But how many attacks are not properly recorded? How many are not even reported?
I suspect the real figure is much higher.
Unless we know the extent of the problem we can’t truly address the problem. To those officers who are pushed or punched on duty and shrug it off as “just part of the job”, I would ask them to report that assault.
Because we need to prosecute those individuals. We need to work with other agencies to initiate diversionary activity. We need to challenge behaviour and prevent it from happening again.
Police officers work hard day and night and they do not deserve to face acts of aggression and violence on duty – no matter how small these acts may seem.
And when there are more serious assaults and attacks, the courts need to support our members and sentence accordingly.
We must protect the protectors.