Urgent review into safety of police officers after spate of attacks

A police car allegedly damaged by a man in South Shore, after officers responded to a street brawl (Picture: Blackpool Police)
A police car allegedly damaged by a man in South Shore, after officers responded to a street brawl (Picture: Blackpool Police)

Police chiefs will carry out an urgent review into the safety of officers, it was announced.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) commissioned the inquiry on behalf of all chief constables when they met to discuss the rise in attacks on officers and the latest string of serious incidents.

It came after the death of PC Andrew Harper in the line of duty on August 15 while responding to a burglary in Berkshire, while there have also been attacks on officers on the Fylde coast.

Last month, the NPCC called on senior police officers from across the country to gather for the summit to discuss what could be done to protect officers.

This followed the news that two forces - Durham and Northamptonshire - were set to allow every frontline officer who wanted a Taser to carry one on duty.

Rachel Hanley, chairman of the Police Federation's Lancashire branch, told The Gazette recently: "Policing is a dangerous and unpredictable job, we know that, but it is essential that officers are given the support equipment and back up they need to do that job safely.

“The judiciary needs to stop being soft on offenders who assault officers and should use their full powers when considering sentencing.

“Any assault on an officer should not just be part of the job. We’ve had some nice words from the Government about increasing police numbers, this will go some way to repairing the damage that has been done to policing.”

The review will hear from officers about their experiences and gather "all available evidence and research".

It will focus on training, equipment, deployment, investigations into officer assaults and the support available afterwards, and the response from the criminal justice system and the extent of which it is providing a sufficient deterrent.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said the work would be carried out "at pace" because "nothing is more important to chiefs than protecting our people so they can effectively protect the public".

He added: "Officers should not have to face assault but we know there are risks in standing up to criminals and protecting our communities. Training, teamwork and public support gives them the confidence to face those risks.

"I am determined this work will provide considered recommendations on what more we can do to protect our frontline staff, respond as effectively as possible if they are assaulted and push for justice to be done."

Three men and a 15-year-old boy were arrested in South Shore last month after allegedly menacing officers responding to a street brawl. The incident happened after officers went to the scene of a fight in Kingsmede, off Highfield Road.

One man allegedly goaded his dog to attack officers as it barked and lunged at them, while another was accused of clambering onto a police car and stamping on it.

That followed a stand-off with a gang of "up to 100 youths" outside Fleetwood's Marine Hall, during which another police car was damaged.

Charlie Hall, the chief constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary, will lead the review with the College of Policing.

The Police Federation, Police Superintendents' Association, Unison and the Association of Special Constabulary Officers will also be invited to contribute to the review.

A report will be presented in November.