Assaults on West Midlands Police officers rise over lockdown

The number of assaults on West Midlands Police officers rose 14 per cent over lockdown, new figures have revealed.

At least 597 instances of assault were recorded over the first three months of lockdown, compared with 522 for the same period in 2019.

This follows the national figures for assault, which saw a 21 per cent rise across 31 forces, from 6,505 to 7,863.

But over in Staffordshire, the force recorded a five per cent drop in assaults on officers, from 105 in 2019 to 99 this year.

In June officers were spat at when they arrived to shut down a party with about 1,000 people near Lichfield, Staffordshire Police said.

Police said the ravers had shown a "complete disregard" for public safety when they met at a field on Brookhay Lane in Whittington.

This comes as a recent study involving 40,000 police officers and staff showed that 88 per cent of officers said they had been assaulted during their career, with 39 per cent having been attacked in the past year.

All 43 forces will be establishing more contact time with personal safety trainers following the rise in assaults, as recommended by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

The NPCC also wants suspects who spit at police to be forced to give a blood sample to test for disease, and also called for spit guards to be issued to all officers if supported by local risk assessments.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: “There is no excuse for anybody to assault a serving police officer and anyone who does so should face justice.

“The brave men and women of West Midlands Police put their own safety to one side, on a daily basis, to protect us all and for that I’m eternally grateful.

“Here in the West Midlands I’ve ensured that we double the number of police officers carrying tasers and I’m reassured that the Chief Constable has pledged to review the safety equipment carried by officers on the front line as part of the national review into police safety.

Deterrent

“In addition I have rolled out body worn video cameras to officers. They often act as a deterrent, but also make it easier to gather evidence of assaults on officers.”

Staffordshire Police is linking the fall in the number of officers being assaulted to conflict training.

A spokesman said: “We have seen a fall in the number of assaults on our officers and staff over the past year, which can be linked to how responders are being trained to deal with conflict situations. Officers are taught de-escalation techniques for when they are called to incidents where people are angry or using drugs or alcohol or maybe suffering a mental health episode.

“When it is necessary for officers to protect themselves, there is a range of personal protection equipment at their disposal, including batons, handcuffs, spit and bite guards, Pava spray and leg restraints. Officers also carry first aid kits. Special Constables have also recently been given additional protective equipment and BWV.

“Training is constantly reviewed and updated and officers and staff are put through special training scenarios, including dealing with prisoners who are in custody and how to safely transport prisoners in vehicles.

“Every new recruit who joins the force undergoes rigorous personal safety training, which they continue to carry out, depending on their role, throughout their service. This includes fitness and safety training, first aid and public order training.”

West Midlands Police ACC Danny Long said: “I am saddened to see increases in violence towards our officers during a time of national emergency when resources are stretched.

“The coronavirus pandemic has meant that we have seen attacks on emergency workers increase in terms of deliberately coughing and spitting with the threat of infection, and I am pleased that the courts have supported prosecutions with tough sentences."

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