Tougher sentences demanded for yobs who attack 999 workers

Superintendent Sarah Pitt
Superintendent Sarah Pitt

A call has been made for tougher sentences for people who attack emergency services workers, as latest figures reveal 30 police officers in South Tyneside were assaulted in the past 12 months.

Broken bones, bites, bruising, puncture wounds, sprains and scratches have been listed as some of the injuries suffered by officers while on duty protecting the public.

The figures have been released by Northumbria Police following aFreedom of Information request and cover the period April 1, 2016 to March 14 this year.

In total, 68 officers throughout South Tyneside and Sunderland have been injured in the line of duty - of these 11 needed hospital treatment, while 15 were given first aid at the scene of the attack.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Police Federation nationally, based on its welfare survey data, found there were potentially more than two million (2,113,602) physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a weapon during the same period.

Last month, we revealed how attacks on firefighters in Tyne and Wear doubled - with 50 firefighters assaulted as they carried out lifesaving work.

It’s quite simply wrong for anyone to accept or feel assaulting a police officer is simply part of their role.

Jim Gray

The figures have led to the police federation to call for tougher sentences on those who carry out attacks on 999 staff as part of its Protect the Protectors campaign, launched in February.

Jim Gray, chairman of Northumbria Police Federation, which represents rank and file police officers, said: “As police officers, we often deal with very challenging, dangerous and unpredictable people and incidents.

“However, it’s quite simply wrong for anyone to accept or feel assaulting a police officer is simply part of their role.

“It is not acceptable to assault anyone, including police officers which is why the Police Federation launched it’s Protect the Protectors campaign in February.

“We are campaigning to change legislation, to introduce tougher sentences for anyone who assaults police officers and all emergency workers.

“We also want better training and equipment and better welfare support.

“Physical and verbal assaults on police officers are commonplace, but we need to change the culture which seems to see that as in some way acceptable or part of the role.

“We do need tougher sentences. If the law recognised it was an aggravating factor to assault a police officer or emergency worker and the sentence reflected that, it could make someone think twice about assaulting a police officer who is simply trying to do their job, uphold the law and protect the public.

“Should taser be more available? In the view of the Police Federation, the availability of taser for police officers should be increased.

“I know chief constables are cautious of what that may look like and the financial costs, but officers’ safety must remain paramount.

“I have seen no negative change in how officers with tasers interact with members of the public and vice versa. It is quite simply a tool to protect officers and the public when the need emerges.

“As a society we need to do more to protect those who run to danger in order to protect others.”

Superintendent Sarah Pitt of Northumbria Police said: “The very nature of policing means police officers can find themselves in challenging and often dangerous situations, but they should not have to put up with being assaulted.

“Any assault against a police officer is one too many. Our officers are there to protect the public and we take a tough stance on anyone targeting them.”