Startling figures from Staffordshire Police suggest that at least one police officer is assaulted every day in the course of their job. While steps are being taken to try and deter assaults on police officers, and to prosecute those who injure police men and women as they go about their business, this is clearly a huge problem.
The impact of assaults on police officers
The figures from the Staffordshire Police force show the extent of injuries that are inflicted on police officers at work. Officers concerned have suffered everything from being spat upon, being kicked, bitten, and, in one recent case, being pushed out of a police van by a suspect, leading to serious neck injuries. In this case, PCSO Chris Hill was unable to work for over a year as the result of his injuries.
It’s not just physical injuries either – as Chief Constable Gareth Morgan remarks:
“My colleagues suffer not just physical injuries but also the psychological effects. Many find the return to frontline especially challenging.
Morale is also significantly impacted when officers and staff see their colleagues being assaulted and abused. This, in turn, can damage the ability of the force to recruit new people.”
Body cams help – but don’t prevent the assaults or the injuries
The Staffordshire Police Force has welcomed the introduction of body cams, and was one of the first police forces to introduce spit guards.
Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker recognises the value of body cams in bringing prosecutions following assaults on police officers:
“When bodycams came in, there was a perception it was to keep the police in line, but it’s the reverse. It’s been eye-opening for the public to see what our staff have to deal with. There is a point where enough is enough.”
While it’s great to see that body cams serve a useful purpose in bringing to justice those who assault police officers in the course of their work, this doesn’t recognise the physical and psychological injuries that an assault at work can cause.
Compensation claims following assaults at work
Assaults on police officers affect those in every force, not just those in the Staffordshire force. In some cases, compensation may be available to the police officer through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. And while police forces may well have introduced procedures, and equipment such as body cams to minimise the likelihood of attacks, there may still be situations where the officers concerned are put at unacceptable risk as the result of the negligence of their employer.
“Being a police officer is one of the toughest, most dangerous of jobs. It’s unacceptable that so many officers are being assaulted at work. I don’t have the full picture, but given the high incidence of attacks, I am left wondering whether staffing numbers are of the right level. In addition, I wonder whether the right type of training has been provided, which might reduce the likelihood of violent incident occurring, or if an incident does occur, that the correct training reduces the risk of injury.”
Harrogate-based Truth Legal acts for people who have been assaulted at work across England and Wales. Alongside our North Yorkshire offices, we have virtual offices in York, Manchester and London where our expert compensation lawyers can discuss your claim and advise you on the way forward. We offer an initial consultation on a free, no obligation basis. If you decide to take the matter further, we can often act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. Please contact us today.