More than 700 officer assaults

Almost 340 South Wales Police officers were injured in attacks by members of the public last year, new figures have revealed.

A total of 727 assaults were recorded in the 12 months to March 2021 with 337 causing injuries and a further 390 which did not result in an officer being hurt.

The data from the Office for National Statistics also shows there were almost 37,000 assaults on police officers across all forces in England and Wales during the same 12-month period.

Of these, 11,235 were crimes of “assault with injury on a constable” while 25,734 were “assault without injury on a constable” - an increase of 21 per cent on the previous year.

South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne said: “We have seen a shocking rise in the number of assaults against police officers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“These attacks have seen our members kicked, punched, spat at and coughed and have led to hundreds being injured in the line of duty.

“As a Federation we condemn in the strongest terms anyone who thinks it is acceptable to attack a member of the emergency services.

“They are working extremely hard in very challenging conditions and should not have to face this rising tide of anger, aggression and hostility.

“Individuals who attack a police officer should expect the toughest possible sentence from  the courts and should also be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

“No one should be at risk of assault when they go to work and we will not allow this to become accepted as part of the job.”

Commenting on the figures, Police Federation national chair John Apter, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have witnessed police officers being subjected to a disgusting level of violence. We now have the figures to prove just how dire the situation has been for my colleagues on the ground.

“More than 100 of my colleagues are assaulted every single day, that’s a staggering number and something society must not accept. Many of these recorded attacks involve vile individuals who have spat on or coughed at police officers, weaponising the virus and threatening to spread it to them and their families.

“The sentencing guidelines have been changed and I would urge judges and magistrates to use these powers to set an example to those who are assaulting our colleagues, those responsible must spend time in prison. This unjustified violence is a stain on society and needs to be dealt with robustly.”

The Government has pledged to increase the maximum sentence from 12 months to two years for assaults on emergency workers through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

And for the first time, judges and magistrates in England and Wales will be given specific guidance for sentencing offenders convicted of assault on emergency service workers under new advice from the Sentencing Council.

In November 2018 the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act doubled the maximum penalty for common assault from six to 12 months.

The legislation covers police, prison staff, custody officers, firefighters, search and rescue workers and front-line health workers.

Assault can include acts such as a push, shove or being spat at, as well as more serious injuries that can lead to far longer sentences.