Hampshire police officer assaults branded unacceptable amid 15 attacks a week

READY Police during the EDL march in Portsmouth in August.
READY Police during the EDL march in Portsmouth in August.
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FIFTEEN police officers a week in our area are assaulted in the line of duty, The News can reveal.

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, is calling on the public to ‘play their part’ and for the courts to deal with attacks on officers ‘robustly.’

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter

His appeal comes as figures in a Freedom of Information request obtained by The News show 2,895 officers were attacked in the line of duty in Hampshire in the past three financial years to April 2013.

Of those, 816 were in the last year.

The figure is down 22 per cent year-on-year from 1,050 in 2011/12.

But Mr Apter has said the number of attacks is still far too high.

He said: ‘Police officers now are more often than not single crewed, they don’t go out in pairs. There are fewer of them available on the streets and society has changed because, sadly, some elements of society think it’s acceptable to assault a police officer.’

Mr Apter added: ‘The public need to play their part.

‘If a public servant is assaulted then the courts and the judicial system need to step up and deal with it robustly.

‘Far too many people say to me a copper getting a smack on the nose during a confrontation is just part of the job.

‘But it’s not part of the job. Police officers don’t join up to get a kicking, they join up to serve the public and it shouldn’t be acceptable.’

Among those assaulted while on duty is PC Alison Zachs.

PC Zachs was on cycle patrol when she was hit by a car driven by banned driver Freddie Field in Sedgeley Close, Southsea.

She had approached Field when she suspected him of driving too fast through a residential area. He drove off, knocking the police officer from her bike. PC Zachs received hospital treatment following the incident in May last year.

Field was later jailed for 23 months for actual bodily harm, driving while disqualified and dangerous driving.

Deputy chief constable Craig Denholm has since welcomed the drop in assaults on officers but said the number of attacks is still too high:

‘Every year we hear stories of tremendous bravery by officers making arrests despite the very dangerous situations they find themselves in,’ he said.

‘I am pleased that the numbers have dropped, but any single assault on a police officer is unacceptable.’

He added: ‘The role of front-line police officer brings with it an inherent risk, and all officers are trained in conflict resolution and how to resolve threat. Officers undergo yearly personal safety training, and some officers are trained to a higher level in order to deal specifically with public order conflict situations.

‘All officers are issued with personal protective equipment including body armour, asp, CS spray and other equipment as appropriate to the task they are dealing with.

‘The reduction in number of assaults over the past 12 months can in part be attributed to the effective use of the Taser device by officers. Usage statistics show that simply the threat of using the Taser, in the majority of instances, is enough to resolve a potentially violent situation.’