Solutions to protect officers from violent assaults on the frontline must be found during an emergency summit of the National Police Chiefs Council, Gloucestershire Police Federation has said.
The Council is due to meet in September in response to a sharp rise in violent attacks on officers across the country. The spate of assaults has seen officers attacked with machetes alongside the now sadly more routine punches and kicks they face whilst on duty.
The recent violence culminated with the horrific death of Thames Valley Police Officer Andrew Harper.
Actions, such as ensuring officers have access to Taser and putting an end to single-crewing, must now be taken says Gloucestershire Police Federation Chair Mike Harrison, who hopes the summit hasn’t come too late to make a difference.
“I’m worried this meeting is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted,” he said.
“We’ve been calling for an increase in Taser for officers for some considerable time. It’s unfortunately taken three serious assaults and a murder of an officer on duty before anyone seems to have reacted.
“I appreciate they [Chief Constables] have all got busy diaries, but to delay it for another month before they even get together to meet about it is unfortunate.”
Alongside Taser provision, Mike wants to call time on single-crewing.
“I would like to see every frontline officer who wants to carry Taser, being given the opportunity to carry Taser and I’d like to see double-crewing become the normality rather than a rarity,” he said.
“For too long we’ve tried to single-crew officers to spread the number of police officers out there, but safety wise I don’t think we can justify it anymore.
“Jobs can be double-crewed, but it just means fewer officers or fewer vehicles are out there at any one time.
“The time has come where we’ve got to start saying to the public, perhaps some jobs aren’t matters for the police. We need to look at what we’re doing, and we need to double-crew for our own safety,” he added.
Mike wants officers to be backed by the CPS and the judicial system too which he says must impose proper deterrents to stop assaults happening in the first place.
“There is no deterrent and we don’t get the backing of the courts or the Crown Prosecution Service,” he said.
“Only last week they said it wasn’t it the public’s interest to deal with someone who’d spat in an officer’s face.
“If I was at the NPCC meeting I would say enough is enough, we need to get tough with offenders. My view is that if you assault a police officer, you go to prison.
“Now is not the time to sit and wait and see what happens with other forces. Now is the time to act nationally. Whether you’re a big force of a smaller force, we need to act as one. They might say, at smaller forces, such as Gloucestershire, the assaults aren’t as prevalent.
“Potentially they’re not, but the chances of it happening are always there. At any time, an officer could be seriously assaulted. For a PCC or Chief officer to step back and say, ‘the evidence doesn’t back it up’, I don’t think now is strong enough. We need to step up and take a strong stance.”