One of the country’s top cops is personally taking steps to highlight the impact of officers or police staff being assaulted or abused on our streets.
Two officers or police staff report being assaulted or racially or verbally abused every day in the West Midlands. Between April and December 2017, 669 assaults on West Midlands officers and staff were recorded - and the problem is growing.
PC Emma Agyei was assaulted in May 2017 after being called to a domestic incident on Chapel Street, Bradley. Footage from her body-cam shows the moment she is forced to the floor by a 24-year-old man who beats her and rips out a large chunk of her hair. Emma’s attacker pleaded guilty to assault at court and was given a 12 weeks suspended sentence. Chief Constable Dave Thompson, said:
“I am stepping up to highlight the impact of assaults on our communities. Officers, PCSOs and staff are often the first and last line of defence.
“Our officers will always do the right thing and routinely put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public, but we need to bring to justice criminals who think that it is okay to abuse and hit out.
“Time off recovering from a senseless attack is time taken away from the very communities that need them policing their streets and protecting them."
From 2018 cases where cop attackers are brought before the courts will include a personal statement from the Chief Constable. In the document - known as an impact statement - Dave Thompson will personally outline to the magistrate or judge and jury the effect the attack has had on the force, and its wider implications for the people of the region by having one of their protectors off patrol because of their injuries.
The personal statement - which comes with the backing of the Crown Prosecution Service - will be used during sentencing and allows the judge to take into consideration the impact the assault has had on the force, the officer’s family and the public. It will be used in conjunction with statements from the victim.
In the last three years, 2,336 assaults on police officers have been recorded. Of these, 89 were police community support officers and 131 were custody staff. Chief Constable Thompson added:
“When it comes to prosecuting suspects, we have been working closely with CPS in our region. We will be making sure that for each prosecution of an assault on one of our officers or staff, the court understands the impact this has on us, our families, our workplace and the policing of the West Midlands."
“The figures are unacceptable and we must work harder as a force to protect our officers and staff. No officer or member of staff should come to work and accept that being assaulted or abused is simply part of the job.
“As a victim of crime, they will be offered the same service any member of the public would expect. As an employer, we’re doing the right thing and adding in an additional layer of support."
Dave Thompson became Chief Constable in January 2016 and pledged to do more on staff wellbeing. As well as introducing more staff welfare support services, he has backed the Police Federation’s Protect the Protectors campaign and overseen the introduction of spit guards, body worn video and double-shot Taser to help with officer safety.
He added: “All too often police officers and staff are subjected to assaults and threats. While the severity of such attacks changes, the impact upon society does not. It is never acceptable to assume that assaults upon police officers and staff should be tolerated, they are not ‘part of the job’."
Backing the Chief Constable’s tough stance, Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “I am pleased that the Chief Constable is getting tough on these unacceptable crimes.
"The police protect the public, it is therefore important we protect our officers, PCSOs and staff too. Officers and staff should not have to put up with violence and assaults whilst keeping the public safe.
"West Midlands Police takes assaults against its staff and officers incredibly seriously. The force will do all in its power to bring those who commit such crimes to justice."