PEOPLE convicted of assaulting police officers should be sent a “sharp, clear message” that they are likely to go to jail.
That is the view of Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge, who described as “disgraceful” the sentences handed down for people convicted of assaulting officers.
He was speaking after figures from the Ministry of Justice showed that of the 12,602 people convicted of assaulting a police officer in the past year, only 1,125 went to jail. That is just under 10%.
However, Alex did caution against a blanket decision to jail everyone who is convicted of assaulting officers.
He explained: “I don’t think every person who assaults a police officer should go to jail but I think a substantial portion of those people should.
“The assumption should be that you go to jail. If we set that bar, then those people who have real, genuine mitigation won’t go. But I would go as far as to say people who assault cops, the presumption should be custody. It’s that simple and it gives a clear message.”
Alex cited the example of Aston Villa footballer Jack Grealish, who was punched in the head by a member of the crowd who ran onto the pitch during a match in March. The attacker appeared in court the day after the incident and was immediately jailed.
Alex said: “Since then, have we had loads of people run up in football matches and punch a footballer in the back of the head? I don’t think we have because it goes with an absolute clear message that if you do that you’ll go to prison. That’s really clear. You couldn’t say it any more simply.
“However, I’ve got three more cases today where offenders assaulted a police officer. Last year they assaulted a PCSO and they were given no prison sentence, or a prison sentence suspended for 18 months, or they’re sentenced for something else and then given no further penalty for assaulting the officer.
“It’s simply not good enough and it we are going to allow those people to assault people who work for a living to help the public, something’s got to be done about it.
“It’s got to be a real sharp, clear message – and prison is that sharp, clear message.
“People do need to go to prison for assaulting police officers. Not enough go. It’s so discouraging for police officers. I speak to some now who think, ‘If I go in and I get assaulted, nothing’s going to happen’. It’s disgraceful.”
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 now gives the judicial system the ability to jail for up to one year people convicted of assaulting officers.