Police officers are still vulnerable to assaults despite the fact that new deterrents have been introduced, Gloucestershire Police Federation has warned.
176 frontline officers at the force were assaulted last year – averaging at three every week. Nationally, there were 30,977 assaults recorded, according to official figures, marking a 5,000 rise on the previous year.
Mike Harrison, Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation, said: “We are still getting officers assaulted on weekly basis. Luckily we haven’t seen as serious assaults as there have been at other forces recently, but any one assault is an assault too many. Police officers work incredibly hard to keep people safe. They do not come to work to be punched, spat at and kicked. They deserve to be safe and to go home uninjured.
“The fact that we have fewer staff now is having an effect – back up is not as quick as it used to be. But there is also a lack of deterrent. Even ten to 15 years ago people would go to court with assault police and get a substantial sentence. The new bill is out but sentencing still isn’t that stringent or strict. There is still a long way to go. Judges and magistrates need to be more considered and treat assaults on any worker very, very seriously and look to hand out where they can maximum sentences where they can.”
Federation officials, police leaders and members of parliament had been lobbying for better protection, resulting in changes to law earlier this year. But the new legislation, dubbed the #ProtectTheProtectors law, still has not gone far enough, according to Holly Lynch MP, who kicked off the campaign.
Magistrates and judges were empowered to increase sentences from six to twelve months for police assaults, but Ms Lynch said: “It didn’t go quite as far as we would like in terms of being a deterrent.
“What I’m seeing far too often is when sentences are handed out they are suspended sentences or things like community resolutions… which is not enforceable,” according to the BBC.