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#ProtectTheProtectors – police are not society’s punchbags

Police officers are becoming society’s punchbags, Nick Smart has told the Police Federation Annual Conference.

Leading a session on #ProtectTheProtectors, the Chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation said there must be a deterrent to stop people assaulting officers.

Having asked delegates to raise their hand if they had been assaulted on duty, he said: “Our officers are becoming society’s punchbags. There is no deterrent. If there is no deterrent, how are people going to change their behaviour? 

“We’ve got to have a deterrent or people are not going to stop what they are doing.

“The vast majority of MPs believe officers should be protected. We have drafted legislation for the Home Office on police assaults – it’s ready to go.”

Nick was joined at conference by Labour’s Holly Lynch, who has helped to draft the proposed legislation on sentencing changes.

She told the conference: “To assault a police officer shows complete disregard for law and order.

“We [MPs] make the laws and we ask you to uphold those laws. If you are not safe, our communities are not safe.”

Delegates also heard from a number of officers who had been assaulted on duty, some of whom were calling for a service-wide introduction of spit guards after being spat at.

One officer said: “I had spit dripping off my face. It was disgusting.”

Delegates also heard one officer recall being spat at 24 times in a single day.

Spit guards were also hotly debated at an earlier session with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who told delegates in Birmingham that she is not against spit guards “in principle” but refused to say whether she would back their use by forces.

The conference heard that around half the forces in England and Wales currently use spit guards.

Ms Abbott was quizzed by delegates on the use of spit guards, which officers say will protect them from the risk of contracting infections such as Hepatitis C, having previously been an outspoken critic of their use.

While conceding that she would not rule them out “in principle” Ms Abbott said: “I have got that sense from the audience today, that spit hoods is a complex subject; there’s health and safety, there’s health, there is a whole range of issues.

“I am looking at the evidence and continue to look at the evidence, I await the result of the trial by the Met. I will be working closely with the Mayor of London and deputy mayor on this.”

However, Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation told her: “I cannot believe some of the things you have been saying. We need a commitment on this, please, we need them.”

802 Met Police officers have been spat by criminals in the past year – with 106 requiring hospital treatment. 42 police officers were spat at at the Notting Hill Carnival alone – with 4 needing to go to hospital.

Date posted: May 22, 2017

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