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At a time when the thin blue line is stretched tighter than ever our police force needs the total support of the courts if its officers are to do their jobs effectively.

They need to know that when they act and make arrests, that the full weight of the law is with them.

It must be infuriating when confronted with someone like Louis Bibby, who has racked up dozens upon dozens of convictions in his 24 years.

And in this instance he assaulted four officers – lashing out and flicking blood at them.

This time he has been jailed – for five months.

While Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter welcomes the jail sentence and sees it as setting an example, The News agrees that it should have been longer.

Assaults on officers have risen by 10 per cent over the past year. This is a troubling statistic.

While we are not so naive as to think we still live in the world of Dixon of Dock Green, it would be nice if our police commanded a little more respect from certain elements of the public.

It is quite right that Hampshire Constabulary should adopt more robust methods for dealing with attacks on their own.

And of course, frontline officers are going to have to expect that there will be times when they become the targets of aggression and violence.

However, stiffer sentences would surely act as a greater deterrent, and allow our police to perform their duties knowing that if they become victims, then the law will back them to the hilt.

While there may not be much that can be done to deter a career criminal, regardless of the calibre of that ‘career’, it may just make someone else think twice before they take an ill-advised course of action against an officer.