More Tasers, new laws and the increased provision of protective equipment to combat a surge in attacks on police are proposed today in a safety blueprint published by the country’s top officers.
The report, by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, says that new measures are needed because of an unacceptable rise in assaults, which has led to a 26 per cent jump in the number of officers being injured.
It adds that 15 officers have also lost their lives to a “criminal act” since 2008 and that every chief constable, including Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, must now consider ways of preventing further harm.
The report was published as Home Secretary Priti Patel met Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper. He was killed on duty in Berkshire in August last year when he was dragged along the road by a stolen vehicle.
The report says measures should include a potential increase in the use of Tasers. It also calls for the introduction or enhanced provision of body armour, safety shields, bite guards, “slash and needle-stick resistant gloves” and “self-application tourniquets”. Further recommendations include the development of “remotely operated vehicle immobilisation devices” to reduce the risk of officers being targeted by cars and a new offence of “deliberately using, threatening or attempting to use a vehicle” to target police.
It also proposes that officers should be given better training on how to “de-escalate” incidents, partly based on hostage negotiation techniques, to prevent attacks taking place.
But it says that there should also be a “hardline approach” to prosecution when assaults do occur, and warns that many officers feel that such crimes are not taken seriously enough by the courts.
It adds that the law should be changed “so that spitting and hate offences against emergency workers are treated as aggravated offences” in response to a recent spike in incidents in which offenders have threatened to infect officers with Covid-19 and longer-standing problems with sexual and racist attacks on officers.
The report states: “Police officers and staff come to work every day to serve the public and bring offenders to justice. They do not come to work to be abused, kicked, punched, spat at, attacked with a weapon or assaulted in any other way. This is not acceptable, it is not ‘part of the job’ and it must not be tolerated or condoned.”