Behind the Badge
I believe that more should be done nationally to tackle violence against police. In West Mercia, more than 850 incidents were reported in just eighteen months. This level of violence is not acceptable.
Our police are professional, dedicated and work hard every day to protect us and keep us safe. As communities, we need to recognise that and do everything we can to protect them as well.
The vast majority of our communities are very supportive of the difficult work our officers do, but it’s clear that we can do more to reduce the violence that officers face on a regular basis – in every force, in every region, every day. There’s clearly a small number of people who need to realise that attacking a police officer is not, and will not, be tolerated. It can also have long-lasting consequences – both for them and the officer in question.
I am confident that West Mercia Police is committed to keeping officers and staff safe. I have seen for myself the regular training officers get and the support mechanisms that are already in place for our workforce. Additional help and advice is available through the Police Federation and Victims Support.
These internal processes are unquestionably strong. What I would like to see is fewer of these incidents happening in the first place. As part of my promise to deliver a safer, more secure West Mercia, I am taking a united approach, along with the police, our partners and our communities to continue to make this a priority.
My #Behindthebadge campaign, which was launched in January 2017, calls for better protection for staff in order to reduce incidents whilst ensuring officers and staff continue to get the same level of support as any other victim of crime. We must do all we can to protect those who protect us.
What I aim to achieve:
- A change in attitudes and behaviour. I want the public to see the person behind the police badge, and the wider impacts that an assault has on them, their family, friends and colleagues.
- I want our communities to understand the challenging and sometimes dangerous role our officers and staff face.
- I want to send a clear message to those likely to commit offences, that any kind of abuse will not be tolerated, and that there will be harsh repercussions.
- I want our officers and staff to continue to feel confident to report incidents, knowing that they will be fully supported, in the same way that any other victim would. My Victims Charter outlines the kind of support they can and should expect. Support mechanisms are already in place internally through West Mercia Police’s Seven Point Plan and additional support is available through the local Victims Support service, which I commission.
- I want to influence the national agenda on this issue, calling for better support for officers and staff, whether this be through better training, the roll out of body worn cameras or any other initiatives which will help us protect those who protect our communities.
- I welcome the approach by the courts to impose tougher sentences for those who assault officers and staff, and want to see this continue.
The current picture:
- Nationally a police officer is assaulted every 22 minutes.
- Figures from April 2015- September 2017 show 1427 offences where the victims were on duty personnel (including officers, staff, special constables, student officers and PCSOs) were reported in West Mercia.
- In the most recent quarter (July-September 2017) there were 182 incidents involving on duty personnel (A 10% increase on the 166 in the previous quarter). This equates to 2 each day.
- In a three month period alone, around 11% of police officers were assaulted across West Mercia (based on June 2017 officer headcount of 2071, and Jul-Sep 17 figures which show 232 officers who were distinct victims).
- Around 77% of assaults between July-September 2017 were on police officers, however there have also been a number of assaults on student officers, police staff, PCSOs and Special Constables.
- Offenders risk prosecution; in 75% of cases the suspect was charged.
- An analysis of violent offences against all police personal, between April 2016- March 2017, showed higher concentration of offences on Saturday and Sunday mornings between midnight and 6am.
With the latest figures showing a 10% increase in assaults the second phase of the campaign, launched in November 2017, focuses in at local level, encouraging community groups and local leaders to engage. The most common time for assaults against police to occur is in the early hours of Friday and Saturday mornings, so a particular focus will be around the night time economy. There will also be a focus on changing offender behaviour, through probation and prison services.
PCC John Campion said “Highlighting this issue is a continued priority for me, and whilst I’m pleased to see this being raised at a national level with the Assault of Emergency Workers Bill, there is still a lot more that we can do as communities to ensure dedicated and professional officers and staff, return safely to their families and loved ones.
Violence against police, or any emergency services workers is never acceptable. It’s important the people can recognise the long lasting impact that assaults have, and that negative behaviour displayed by a minority is challenged. I promise to continue to engage, with our communities, so we can continue to protect those who protect us.”
In the following video, PC Jon Townsend shares his experiences:
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The campaign is supported by the following partners:
For more information on the Police Federation’s national campaign to #ProtectTheProtectors visit their website