UK

Police chief: Attackers of PCs ‘must be jailed, no ifs no buts’

Katy Bourne, Sussex police and crime commissioner
Image caption Katy Bourne is the police and crime commissioner for Sussex

Harsher sentences for people who attack police officers “would be very welcome”, the head of the national body for police bosses has said.

Katy Bourne, the new chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), said anyone who hurts an officer should go to prison, “no ifs, no buts”.

She made the remarks after the death of PC Andrew Harper in the line of duty.

It comes as all chief constables were called to a summit on officer safety.

The urgent meeting – the first time the chief constables have ever come together outside of their usual quarterly meetings – will discuss how frontline policing can be made safer.

Currently, people guilty of common assault against emergency services staff can be fined or sent to prison. Last year the maximum jail term was doubled from six to 12 months.

‘Unacceptable’

In her first interview since beginning her new role earlier this year, Mrs Bourne said: “If you attack a police officer, you need to know you will go to prison.”

Mrs Bourne – who also sits on the prime minister’s recently formed National Policing Board – added: “When we do catch people I think the sentencing needs to be reflective of the seriousness of the crime.”

Over the last four years, the number of Sussex officers injured in attacks has risen by 16% to an average of three a day, she said.

Mrs Bourne, who is the police and crime commissioner for Sussex Police, branded the increase in her “relatively safe, peaceful” county as “unacceptable”.

On Saturday, Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), called an urgent meeting for all chief constables, saying: “If we can’t protect our people, how can we protect the public?”

The summit, which will be held in early September, will see the top officers share lessons from the recent attacks on their frontline officers as part of a discussion “to see if there is anything more we can do to tangibly improve their safety”, Mr Hewitt said.

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has also been asked to give its input.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption All frontline officers in one force have been offered Tasers after violence against emergency services

Although Mr Hewitt said it was important not to have “knee-jerk” reactions to events, he added: “Levels of violence are an increasing concern across the country and attacks on our officers have gone up,” he said in a statement.

“It is the responsibility of each chief constable to do all they can to keep their officers as safe as possible,” he added.

Mrs Bourne also said she would ask Home Secretary Priti Patel to consider using Sussex Police’s knife crime pilot prevention programme to help to tackle the issue across a wider area.

Known as Reboot, the early youth intervention programme involves police, health professionals and charities joining forces to encourage children to develop interests and hobbies to help deter them from anti-social behaviour.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Northamptonshire Police announced it would be the first force in the country to arm all of its frontline officers with Tasers.

Days later it was joined by a second force, Durham Constabulary, which said every frontline officer who wanted one would undergo training to use the stun guns.

Some studies have linked the increased use or presence of Tasers with an increase in hostility between police and the public.

Ch Con Giles York – vice chair of the NPCC – told BBC Breakfast: “There is always a balance to be struck around how we equip our officers and still maintain that British piece of policing that is policing by consent.”

Earlier this month, a police officer was stabbed in Leyton, east London, and two officers in Merseyside were attacked in separate incidents.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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