POLICE officer assaults have increased by a worrying 31% in July compared with last year, new figures have shown.
The rise may be driven by increases in common assaults on police constables, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19, the National Police Chiefs’ Council said, as part of its analysis of crime data provided by the 43 forces in England and Wales in the four weeks to 2 August.
Che Donald, Vice Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are absolutely appalled by the huge surge in assaults against emergency workers.
“Police officers and other emergency workers who serve the public do not deserve to be assaulted for simply doing their jobs.
“This who commit these despicable offences must be harshly dealt with by the courts and face the full force of the law.”
NPCC Chair, Martin Hewitt said: “I am disgusted to see an increase in assaults on emergency service workers who are the frontline in protecting us all including from this deadly virus. We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line.”
The figures also showed that police recorded crime was seven per cent lower than in the same period as 2019, as lockdown measures have eased.
Marked reductions were recorded for residential burglary, vehicle crime (including theft of and from a vehicle), assaults (including both Grievous Bodily Harm and Actual Bodily Harm) and robbery and shoplifting. Forces have also continued to observe decreases, albeit at lower rates than previously reported, in 999 and 101 call volumes, by 10 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
Mr Hewitt added: “Coronavirus is still a real and deadly threat. The restrictions across the UK are in place to limit the spread of the virus and save lives…Officers will continue to be out in communities – engaging, educating and encouraging people to be act responsibly to stop the spread of this virus – and patrols are being stepped up in problem spots. We will enforce where necessary.
“Those who flout the regulations risk a fine of £100 – halving to £50 if paid within 14 days. Those organising or facilitating unlawful gatherings face fines of £10,000. As restrictions ease across the country, people will want to go out and enjoy themselves but this needs to be done in a socially responsible manner, within the law, and with due regard for everyone’s safety.”