Big increase in violent attacks on Lancashire Police officers

Home Office data shows that 178 assaults resulting in officer injuries were recorded by Lancashire Constabulary in 2018-19,
Home Office data shows that 178 assaults resulting in officer injuries were recorded by Lancashire Constabulary in 2018-19,

The number of serious attacks on officers resulting in injury rose significantly in Lancashire last year.

An urgent review into police safety has been launched, with the Police Federation of England and Wales saying the attacks are “completely unacceptable”, and calling for a wider roll-out of Tasers.

Home Office data shows that 178 assaults resulting in officer injuries were recorded by Lancashire Constabulary in 2018-19, compared to 144 during the previous year.

The figures reflect a growth in such attacks across England and Wales, where injuries to officers through assault increased 27 per cent during the period, to around 10,400.

The data was published for the first time in 2017-18, when “assault with injury on a constable” became a new category of crime.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “The rise in assaults on our officers is completely unacceptable and must never be seen as just part of the job.

“The recent surge of serious, high-profile attacks is a serious concern, and the Federation will continue to push for a wider roll-out of Tasers, supporting all frontline officers who want to carry one in passing the required assessments to do so.

“It is not a nice-to-have device – it is an essential piece of kit, which without doubt has saved the lives of officers and the public.”

But Mr Apter added that Tasers were only part of the solution, and that society must not tolerate such behaviour towards the police.

Lancashire Constabulary also recorded 384 assaults without injury on officers in 2018-19, up from 274 the previous year.

The rise is greater than that across England and Wales – attacks without injury rose by 14 per cent to just under 20,600.

Figures for assaults in which officers were not physically hurt go back further than those resulting in injuries, and show a rise of 43 per cent since 2014-15.

The Home Office said the figures are likely to underestimate the total number of assaults in some forces, as many officers see it as part of the job, and do not report them.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: “Officers should not have to face assault but we know there are risks in standing up to criminals and protecting our communities.

“Training, teamwork and public support give them the confidence to face those risks.

“I have commissioned an end-to-end review of officer safety – from training, to equipment, to the criminal justice outcomes when an officer is assaulted.”

Last year, Parliament passed a new law to double the maximum sentence for assault against emergency workers from six to 12 months.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Being attacked should never be part of the job for our courageous police officers, who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us.

“We are working with forces to recruit 20,000 more police officers over the next three years, and are committed to ensuring they have the resources, tools and powers they need to keep themselves and the public safe.”