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106 assaults on Bedfordshire police officers since lockdown began

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warned that assaulting police officers on duty could put the wider community in danger after it was revealed there have been 106 assaults on Bedfordshire police officers since lockdown began.

Commissioner Holloway said:

“Assaults on our police officers, who are the ones protecting us from danger, are absolutely unacceptable. Police put their own lives on the line for the public every single day and have the right to return home safely at the end of each shift, like everyone else. An attack on a police officer can never be considered just part of the job.

“We all need to be able to call upon them in the worst of all circumstances. Bedfordshire Police has less than 1300 officers and if a single officer is lost from duty not only is this appalling for them and their loved ones but our resources, which are already stretched, become an even thinner blue line.”

Maximum jail sentence for assaulting emergency workers is 12 months

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into force after a Protect the Protectors campaign by the Police Federation and MPs. It doubled the previous maximum jail sentence for assaulting emergency workers from six to 12 months.

Bedfordshire Police Federation chairman, Steve Bozward, said:

“Assaults continue to rise due to the despicable behaviour of some people who think it is acceptable to assault police and other emergency workers. The only way to deal with thugs who punch, bite and spit at our police officers is to jail them.”

Earlier this year (January 2020), Commissioner Holloway called for the law to support front line police officers with greater penalties. This followed BBC One’s ‘Critical Incident’, which featured PC Hayley Robinson, a Bedfordshire officer whose leg was broken when a suspect deliberately rammed her car.

Bedfordshire Police also enhanced the support for officers following an assault by introducing ‘Maggie’s Law’. This is named after the daughter of PC Jon Henry, who was killed on duty in Luton in June 2007.

Anyone who is assaulted while on duty receives direct contact from a member of the chief officer team to check on their welfare and to offer any support which is needed. Bedfordshire Police’s Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, said:

“An attack on a police officer or other emergency services worker is unacceptable at any time, but is especially galling when they are working on the frontline to keep people safe during a global pandemic.

“We have an enhanced duty of care in place for our colleagues and will not tolerate any assault on our workforce. People who want to make a difference in their community can apply to join us with full confidence that they will be supported.”