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Officers must stop accepting ?vile and disgusting attacks' as part of the job

Three times more likely to be bitten by humans than by dogs, survey reveals
Published - 07/11/2018 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

Chief constables have been urged to take personal responsibility for officers reporting every incident of violence against them as new statistics reveal policing’s front line are three times more likely to be bitten by humans than dogs.

Facing an assault every four minutes, the rank-and-file deserve the “confidence and support” of chiefs as people inflict “animal-like behaviour” in “vile and disgusting” attacks, says the Police Federation of England and Wales.

Offenders were responsible for biting officers 1,940 times over the last three years – while the canine threat was recorded 644 times in the same period, a Freedom of Information request uncovered.

The Met Police recorded 1,021 human bites compared to 260 dog bites in three years with 451 officers needing attention for the wounds caused by offenders. British Transport Police has seen over 100 bites inflicted on its officers but only eight of them were dog bites.

But Fed chairman John Apter said the latest ‘bite’ figures do not represent “anywhere near the true picture” of the level of violence officers face on a day to day basis – mainly due to recording failings and a reluctance by colleagues to admit the assaults are not just “part of the job”.

More worryingly, the staff association’s latest welfare survey data suggests that there were more than two million unarmed physical assaults on officers over 12 months and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon during the same period.

Conversely, the Home Office said there were just over 26,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales – including BTP – between 2017 and 2018.

Of those some 18,114 were crimes of “assault without injury on a constable” recorded across all forces, an increase of 10 per cent compared with 16,536 in the previous year. Policing experienced a downward trend in assaults for a decade from 2006 – until 2016 signalled a reversal in figures and significant increases.

There were 8,181 crimes of “assault with injury on a constable” recorded across all forces in the last 12 months. This is the first year such data has been available since a new crime classification was introduced on April 1 last year.

Mr Apter told Police Oracle: “Any attack on a police officer is completely unacceptable and something we have long campaigned about. But the act of biting anybody, let alone a police officer, is vile, disgusting and animal-like behaviour.

“Sadly these figures do not shock me – in fact they don’t represent anywhere near the true picture as many attacks on police officers still go unreported.

“The responsibly falls to the individual chief constables to make sure that all officers have the confidence – and support – to report every incident.

“I know some do this already but they must all ensure all acts of violence, whether it’s physical or verbal are accurately recorded. And it must be a priority as we can only adequately address the problem when we know the true scale of it.

“Some forces have made spit and bite guards available to all frontline officers and one of my priorities is to see these rolled out across all forces in England and Wales to ensure all officers have access to the protective equipment they are entitled to – being bitten, spat at or assaulted in anyway is completely unacceptable and should not be seen in anyway as part of the job.”

The staff association’s Protect the Protectors campaign has lobbied for tougher sentences for anyone who assaults an officer; and off the back of this work this month sees the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill brought into force.

Maximum prison terms for people found guilty of common assault against emergency workers are to double from six months to a year.

Police and prison officers, firefighters and NHS staff are among those covered by the new law which is now on the Statute Book.

The Fed chairman added: “Attacks on police officers – or any emergency service workers – should never be considered ‘just part of the job’ and I hope this new law will act as a deterrent for those who think that it is acceptable to assault police officers, and will appropriately punish those who do.”

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