Gloucestershire Police Federation has spoken out about the “disappointing” increase in attacks on officers after it emerged that assaults on emergency service workers have risen by almost a quarter.
Provisional data from police forces in England and Wales showed that assaults saw a 24 per cent rise in the four weeks to 7 June. The National Police Chiefs’ Council said the increase may be driven by assaults during protests and suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.
Steve James, Gloucestershire Police Federation Chair, said: “It has been disappointing recently to see that a small minority of people think that they can use the cover of peaceful and heartfelt protest to launch unwarranted attacks on individual police officers. Police officers continue to work, despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, to ensure that people’s rights to protest is maintained – even on occasions when they are the subject of that same protest. The vast majority of people attending these protests are doing so peacefully and their voices are being heard. Attacking police officers can only undermine the legitimacy and message of these protests.
“Police officers will continue to protect all members of their communities throughout the current pandemic and will continue to facilitate protest for those who do a peacefully. No better example can be given than of the officer who despite being unarmed tackled an armed terrorist and saved countless lives during this weekends protests in Reading.”
The Home Secretary is due to unveil plans that will double the sentences for offenders who assault emergency workers to two years.
Steve added: “The Federation has long campaigned for legislation that reflects the serious nature of assaults on police officers, and other emergency workers. As such we were pleased when our longstanding #ProtectTheProtectors campaign led to the introduction of the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act, which improved the sentencing options available to courts. I’ve said before that it has been positive to see that courts have been using these new powers to appropriately sentence those who recently have sought to use the threat of coronavirus as a weapon against our brave officers.
“As such I welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement to review the sentencing powers under this and related legislation, and increase the protection afforded to those who consistently put themselves in danger to protect others.”