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On the streets of Britain an officer is attacked every 20 minutes'


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Documentary conveys the rising 'impact of violence' on the rank and file.

Bloodied but not bowed: The face of policing today as seen on the Dispatches documentary

Bloodied but not bowed: The face of policing today as seen on the Dispatches documentary

Date - 1st July 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

 

Shocking statistics revealing eight in 10 officers have been assaulted on duty in the last year are driving policing leaders on to push for more Taser, double crewing, better welfare support and a return to pre-austerity frontline numbers.

National Police Federation chairman John Apter wants the country to turn on to the “tough but essential viewing” of a TV documentary tonight in a reality check highlighting the daily “impact of violence” on the rank and file.

An exclusive poll of 1,000 officers found one is attacked every 20 minutes, with a third of them needing medical help.

Around nine in 10 physical attacks are now more frequent compared with 2016 and 2017. According to Home Office figures for 2017-18, there were more than 26,000 recorded assaults on officers – a rise of fifth over two years and up by nearly three-quarters since 2011.

The study by Channel 4’s Dispatches, ahead of its showOfficer Down: Police Under Attack on Monday night, also found that there is a call for “urgent assistance” 82 times a day. It discovered such calls rose from 27,140 in 2017 to 29,867 last year — an increase of just over 10 per cent.

The stark figures will be revealed by a former Met Police officer-turned-reporter, Dan Clark-Neal, who worked on Operation Yewtree before quitting the service in May 2013 – a month before being a contestant on Big Brother.

Through Freedom of Information requests, the former detective constable – married to TV presenter Rylan Clark since 2015 – will show officers were off sick for a total of more than 500,000 days last year for mental health reasons. And a third of officers forced to retire on medical grounds did so because of mental health issues.

The PFEW chairman said: “It is important the public see the reality of what officers have to endure – extreme violence for simply doing their job.

“The Dispatches programme will be tough viewing but it’s important the public, politicians and the media see the reality of the level of violence our officers have to face every day.

“Our focus remains on doing as much as we can to improve the level of support and protective equipment available to help combat an issue which has become intolerable.

“The safety of our police officers must not be a postcode lottery, they must all have access to the best possible training, equipment and support.

“It is completely unacceptable for officers to be subjected to such levels of violence, this is why I want to see officers having access to more Taser, more spit and bite guards, and above all else we need resilience and that means more police officers.

“This has at long last been acknowledged by the Home Office, it now needs to be delivered.”

During the programme, Dr Jess Miller shows one in five officers claim to be suffering from PTSD due to "repeated abuse" and trauma.

The research of 17,000 officers, led by Dr Miller, a neuropsychology research fellow at Cambridge University, showed 43 per cent felt their sense of threat had been heightened because of exposure to traumatic incidents, including personal assaults.

Nearly a third said they would avoid situations, places and people that reminded them of previous incidents.

Dr Miller said: “If you put any person in a situation where they're repeatedly abused, then cognitive function and wellbeing are going to suffer as a result. 

“The starkest finding was that one in five officers and staff have some form of PTSD.

“That Complex PTSD was the most prominent, with 90 per cent of officers reportedly having been exposed to a traumatic incident.

“Also concerning was that, of those officers who didn’t actually show clinical or problem levels of trauma impact disorder, a lot of them were still feeling the effects of trauma impact. 

“If you continually experience trauma again and again and again without resetting that stress response, that’s when the disorder kicks in.”

Policing Minister Nick Hurd told Dispatches: “We need more officers.  That has been my priority, so this year, up and down the country, we’re recruiting over 3,000 more officers and staff and PCSOs.”

Challenged by Mr Clark-Neal if former Home Secretary Theresa May was wrong to have cut 20,000 officers since 2010, Mr Hurd responded: “When circumstances change, government’s got to change.

“When I started… I recognised there was too much pressure on the system, which is too stretched, and ever since then I have been working to persuade my colleagues that we needed to get more resources into the police system.”

The programme will feature shocking footage captured on police bodycam, CCTV and by the public, and will feature interviews with officers whose lives have been profoundly affected following a personal assault.

The programme will ask if respect for the police is at an all-time low, and what this means for the future of maintaining law and order.

View On Police Oracle

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I doubt the tories will be interested in trying to rectify this mess, as that would require them admitting that they've caused it.

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1 hour ago, PC Wannabe said:

I doubt the tories will be interested in trying to rectify this mess, as that would require them admitting that they've caused it.

Nor would Labour, considering they caused the financial crisis that led to austerity (to speak nothing of what a Marxist Corbyn led government might inflict on the nation)

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3 hours ago, PC Wannabe said:

I doubt the tories will be interested in trying to rectify this mess, as that would require them admitting that they've caused it.

Very little to do with the Tories. Officers have been the target of assaults and violence for decades, even before any cuts which were the result of financial crisis courtesy of a  long Labour era.  We/they are not here to be assaulted, and this could be backed up by the Judiciary bringing in appropriate sentences.

Edited by Zulu 22
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I tend to agree in that I don't think it has as much to do with party lines or funding as it might at first be thought.

The fact is we have, as a society, become far too soft on crime and are also pussy-footing about everything for fear of upsetting X, Y or Z for A, B or C reasons. As I've said over and over and over, courts have to start imposing meaningful sentences and the end of the nicey-nicey approach.

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20 hours ago, David said:

The fact is we have, as a society, become far too soft on crime and are also pussy-footing about everything for fear of upsetting X, Y or Z for A, B or C reasons. As I've said over and over and over, courts have to start imposing meaningful sentences and the end of the nicey-nicey approach.

Has it ever been any better though in terms of punishment? That's a question that often confuses me when I talk to people with more life experience than myself. Obviously I can't really say what penalties used to be like in days gone by vs. now as being 24 I haven't been around long enough to observe what things were like say, 30 years ago. But talking to - and reading the views of - people who have, I often hear very conflicting views. Some will say that punishments for such offences used to be really harsh and as such there was a greater deterrent to assaulting police, whereas others say it's never been any different and penalties back in the day were just as pathetic as they are now and assaults just as frequent. Even on this forum there are very conflicting opinions on this. 

I agree with you and @Zulu 22 regardless though - the courts should be dishing out proper sentences that reflect the severity of the crime. 

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Thirty years ago the magistrates were a lot firmer. One of my earlier Assaults on Police the Chairman of the bench said, "I will not have my officers assaulted, you will go to prison for 6 months."  Over the years the sentences have got softer. A friend who was a magistrates resigned from the bench because they got a direction from the Justice Department instructing the4m not to sentence people to prison. 

My father remembers a youth who was a permanent pain in the backside. He went on holiday to the Isle of Man, Twoc'd a car and got sentenced to the Birch. He was also banned from the Island. He returned and officers asked him if he was going back for a holiday and he replied, he never wanted to see the Island again.  It also calmed his behaviour back home as well. Cruel, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. The do-gooders would decry such punishment but, it worked.  Similar to knife crime deaths, they are a good reason why the Death penalty should be in force but, it will never happen. Human rights for defendants but nothing for the victim.

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1 hour ago, Zulu 22 said:

Thirty years ago the magistrates were a lot firmer. One of my earlier Assaults on Police the Chairman of the bench said, "I will not have my officers assaulted, you will go to prison for 6 months."  Over the years the sentences have got softer. A friend who was a magistrates resigned from the bench because they got a direction from the Justice Department instructing the4m not to sentence people to prison. 

My father remembers a youth who was a permanent pain in the backside. He went on holiday to the Isle of Man, Twoc'd a car and got sentenced to the Birch. He was also banned from the Island. He returned and officers asked him if he was going back for a holiday and he replied, he never wanted to see the Island again.  It also calmed his behaviour back home as well. Cruel, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. The do-gooders would decry such punishment but, it worked.  Similar to knife crime deaths, they are a good reason why the Death penalty should be in force but, it will never happen. Human rights for defendants but nothing for the victim.

I think prison also needs to be reverted back into being an actual deterrent too. Having lived in some undesirable areas I know/have known my fair share of people who have been in and out of prison, and many of them don't even care about being sent there. That speaks volumes for the prison system. Prison is meant to be a punishment, but for many it sounds like it's just a home from home and a different lifestyle for a few months. Maybe if prisons returned to being harsher places, people may think twice about committing the crime.

I personally believe that in cases of murder, life should mean life. I also think that there needs to be a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who uses a knife offensively, including non-fatal attacks. Problem is, the political elite simply don't care enough. 

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Sentences were firmer that's for sure, but also there  were taboos: as much as one might hate the police, they were a no-go as far as violence went, and older lags at the time took a dim view of offenders offending against the police. Then as time went on it became almost a badge of honour to assault a copper and with pathetic sentencing now, it's becoming routine and almost as if the police should actually expect and accept being assaulted: we might expect to be assaulted but there is no way we should ever get to the point where we accept it.

As to softer sentencing, you need look no further than along the lines of daft judges allowing an offender to go on holiday before beginning the sentence, or relaxing a tag curfew/conditions so that a teen can go to a theme park. What kind of message does that send out? On the other hand, start to impose firm sentences and the message does get out.

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