Shocking figures reveal 88% of UK police officers say they've been assaulted on duty

2 September 2020, 11:00 | Updated: 2 September 2020, 13:14

Police safety raining is set to be reviewed
Police safety raining is set to be reviewed. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

88 per cent of frontline police officers have reported being assaulted whilst on duty, as a new survey reveals an overwhelming amount of them support being given Tasers.

Newly released figures have shown that from 2008 to 2019, 92 police officers lost their lives on duty.

Of those, 15 of these were a direct result of a criminal act.

Shockingly, tens of thousands of others say they have been assaulted whilst just doing their jobs, with 88 per cent saying they have been assaulted during their careers.

Official figures from the National Police Chief's Council show there were 30,885 assaults recorded from 2018-2019 alone, although the true figure is thought to be around 45,000.

In the past 12 months, 39 per cent say they have been assaulted, with 50 per cent of custody officers and 46 per cent of response officers saying they have suffered violence at least three times.

Police chiefs are now reviewing the equipment and safety training given after a survey of 40,000 officers found a worrying rise in assaults and violence against them.

When asked, 85 per cent of officers said they believed they should be deployed with a Taser.

A lower proportion (61 per cent) were of the opinion that all frontline police officers needed a Taser.

The use of force analysis found that the odds of officers being assaulted were lowered when Taser was drawn, but increased when it was discharged.

The report also revealed a shocking increase in assaults on officers.

In 2018/19, there were 328 assaults per 1,000 constables – roughly one offence for every three constables – up from 284 per 1,000 in the previous year.

Over the same period, assaults on officers that did not result in injury increased by 13 per cent on the previous year to 20,476.

Assaults with injury increased by 26 per cent to 10,409.

However, the College of Policing estimates that when unrecorded assaults are taken into account, the total number is closer to 45,000.

The College of Policing has estimated that as a result of assaults on officer, 71,308 days were taken as sick leave, at a total estimated salary cost of £4.7 million.

Provisional figures released by the NPCC also show a continuing trend of increased assaults against emergency service workers during the pandemic.

In the month leading to August, there was a 31 per cent increase in assaults compared to last year, and it is feared this rise could be driven by increases in common assaults, particularly people spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel condemned assaults on police as "unacceptable", saying that the Government is looking to double the maximum sentence awarded for assaulting officers.

“It is without doubt that our brave police do one of the most difficult jobs out there, putting their lives on the line and confronting violent situations every day to keep the public safe," she said.

“The increase in assaults on these brave men and women is simply unacceptable, which is why the Government is consulting on doubling the maximum sentence for this crime.

“I welcome this vital work from the NPCC which shows it is essential that police are equipped with the right protection, training and tools to protect the public and themselves.”

As a result of the review, several new measures will be put in place:

- The College of Policing will overhaul current safety training and replacing it with a new national curriculum

- Introducing a national framework for conducting a strategic threat and risk assessment will be created to ensure consistency of approach across police forces, even if local circumstances mean different decisions about equipment and deployment

- Every chief constable reviewing whether their frontline officers and staff have the equipment they need and increasing the availability of Taser, body armour, spit and bite guards, protective gloves and high-visibility clothing to proportionate levels if supported by their strategic threat and risk assessments

- Research to examine racial disparities in the police use of Taser

- Expediting trials of new technology or equipment that could enhance safety such as changes to prevent assaults in police vehicles

- A hard line approach to investigations into officer assaults with arrest of an offender the default position

Police chiefs have welcomed the reforms as "essential" to enhance officer safety.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt said: “In this review, we have followed the evidence, listened to the concerns of those within the service, and heard the views of the public.

“The review and the breadth of its recommendations show that there is no one piece of equipment that is the answer to all violent and threatening situations. Instead, chief constables have agreed a broad package of measures that will significantly enhance the safety of our brave and hardworking frontline.

“We’re overhauling safety training, trialling new technology and tactics, reviewing the availability of equipment and taking a hard line on the standard of response after an assault. Chiefs have also agreed to take suggestions for legislative change to government to further protect officers and staff.

“The primary purpose of the police service is to keep the public safe. Having well trained and equipped officers and staff allows us to fulfil that purpose as well as our responsibility to do all we can to protect our people.

“Policing is a career with huge rewards but front line police officers and staff join knowing they face some risks and will sometimes have to run towards danger. Those risks can never be eliminated completely but, as these changes are implemented, we do expect to see a reduction in the number of assaults and greater satisfaction in the response after an assault.”