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“Police officers are not there as a punch bag” - call for harsher sentences for assaults on emergency workers

PUBLISHED: 19:22 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:22 29 January 2018

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation. Picture Andy Symonds

Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation. Picture Andy Symonds

Archant

Over the festive period 17 police officers were assaulted in the line of duty, prompting the chair of Norfolk Police Federation to call for proper deterrents from the courts.

The Police Federation’s campaign to ‘Protect The Protectors’ is calling for a change in legislation; tougher sentencing; better training and access to equipment; more accurate data on police assaults; and improved welfare support.

Andy Symonds, Chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation said: “Officers are simply fed up of turning up for duty in an ever demanding job, working hard to protect only to be punched, kicked, and scratched, head-butted and spat at.

“Officers want protection in the form of a deterrent from the courts when they sentence offenders.”

In Norfolk 390 officers were assaulted between April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 - more than one officer every day of the year.

Norfolk Police Federation said it believes the actual number is higher since some officers do not report crimes committed against them because they feel violence is an inevitable part of the job.

Mr Symonds added: “Unfortunately we have experienced an increase in the level of violence shown towards officers; recently we have had an officer suffer broken fingers in an attack. Other injuries include black eyes, bruising and concussion. I’ve been in contact with a female officer who has been assaulted four times during the month of December.

“Our officers are not robots; they are human beings who wear a uniform with pride to protect the vulnerable, keep people safe and in doing so put their own safety and mental wellbeing at risk. They are also someone’s sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. I spoke to a female officer recently who told me that she had to lie to her children about the bruising she sustained after an attack.

“Officers accept that they work in a role that will see them dealing with people who are agitated, distressed or confused. Police officers are not there to act as punch bag for members of the public and if someone assaults a police officer, spits at them or scratches them in any way they should expect a harsh sentence from the courts.

“I’ve spoken with officers who have been spat at in the face by offenders who have blood in their saliva. Some of these offenders have communicable diseases such as Hep C. Spitting is a truly disgusting and demeaning act which means officers have to go for blood tests and wait for some results for up to six months to find out if they’ve contracted anything.”

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) private members bill, put forward by Chris Bryant MP, received its second reading in Parliament on October 20, 2017.

The bill will aim to introduce new offences including malicious wounding, grievous or actual bodily harm and common assault aggravated when carried out against a constable, firefighter, doctor, paramedic, nurse or people assisting them in their duties.

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