Royston Martis – Police Oracle
Assaults on police officers across England and Wales have now fallen for three years in a row, the House of Commons has been told.
In the financial year 2010 – 2011, 7,904 officers on the beat were assaulted in the line of duty compared to 8,175 in 09/10 and 10,146 in 08/09.
But officers at the sharp end of policing said that this could be because of less boots on the ground – or because colleagues are not reporting being attacked.
A PC from West Midlands Police, who asked not to be named, said: “I can tell you it is just not being reported as at the end of shift you’re so tired you can’t wait to get out the door.
“You know full well that, if you were to lock someone up for an assault on an officer, then you’re stuck for even longer, writing a report which more often than not goes nowhere.”
Another PC from West Midlands Police added: “I would put the fall in assaults down to less bobbies to get assaulted, reluctance of the CPS to prosecute and maybe the greater availability of Taser, though until everyone has one that cannot be quantified.
“It is not any less dangerous out there – in fact I think it is getting more dangerous.”
A PC from the Met said: “There are just less of us on the streets to hit.”
A spokeswoman for the CPS said that lawyers took attacks on public servants seriously. She added: “One of the public interest factors in favour of a prosecution for an assault is that it is against somebody who is serving the public, such as a police officer.”
In these cases the public interest would generally be in favour of a prosecution.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert told fellow members: “It should be recognised that it may not be appropriate, given the circumstances of a case, to charge a person who has assaulted a police officer with the specific offence of assault on a constable.”
A spokesman for ACPO said: “There has been a general drop in crime during this period. Our officers are better trained in conflict resolution and diffusing aggression.
“Public confidence in policing has improved significantly and in general greater support for policing will translate into fewer assaults and a better relationship with the public.”