More than 500 attacks on Norfolk police officers in a year prompts tasers vow from chief constable

PUBLISHED: 06:46 10 August 2018

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in Kings Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in Kings Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

Norfolk Constabulary.

Every Norfolk officer could be armed with a taser by 2021 – in response to the shocking news that there were 500-plus attacks on police in the past year.

Between April 2017 and March 2018 there were 518 assaults against Norfolk officers - including 136 that caused injury.

The alarming Home Office figures come months before the introduction of new legislation which will see tougher sentences for those who assault emergency service workers.

Norfolk’s chief constable Simon Bailey vowed that every officer in the county would be equipped with tasers within the next three years.

Mr Bailey said: “The figures are bitterly disappointing and they really shine a light on the scale of assaults on police officers.

“I welcome the proposals to change the legislation to increase the maximum sentence for people who assault my colleagues and as chief constable I’m doing everything I can to reduce the number of incidents of assault.

“All officers have been provided with body-worn video which does act as a deterrent and we’re increasing the number of officers who are carrying taser.”

Mr Bailey said over the next three years the force was hoping to equip “every officer who wants to carry a taser” with one in the county.

He said: ”It’s a real shame that it has come to this but I feel that I need to do everything I can to ensure my officers who are out every day serving the communities of Norfolk are able to mitigate the threat that is posed by a small minority of society who believe it’s all right to verbally and physically abuse my officers.”

Last year body-worn cameras were introduced to officers in Norfolk and Suffolk in a bid to provide them with protection as well as a means to gather better evidence about crimes that had taken place.

Acting Sergeant Dan Taylor, from the Norwich East Safer Neighbourhood Team, who was last year attacked by two women in seperate incidents within the space of just a few hours, said he felt the cameras would help prevent future attacks.

He said: “I think body-worn video will help both towards a deterrent in most incidents and certainly when people are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and realise what they have done the next day.

“Having their footage replayed to them in interview there is no room for argument. The footage doesn’t lie and it’s often crystal clear both visually and audibly too.”

He added: “This will often help in court cases too where the courts can see/hear what’s been said rather than just reading from the officer’s statements, they can see and hear it for themselves.

“Over time I hope to see assaults on police go down but see tougher punishment for those that do assault emergency service personnel.”

The Police Federation has welcomed the introduction of the new law which will allow tougher sentences for offenders, saying that officers should not have to consider assault “just part of the job”.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill will be passed into law this autumn.

Under it, the fact that assaults are committed against emergency workers will be taken into account when sentencing offenders, potentially leading to tougher sentences.

John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Any attack on a police officer is unacceptable.

“And while I am glad that the ONS and the Home Office are improving their data collation regarding assaults on police officers I do not believe that these figures represent anywhere near the true picture of the level of violence our members face on a daily basis.”

Lorne Green, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, said he was doing his best, whether by trying to push for new legislation or by helping to provide new kit, like body cameras, to reduce attacks on officers.

He said: “I’ve said it before and will say it again. An attack on emergency workers is an attack on all of us because we rely on these people to keep us safe.”

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