Posted: Friday 17th February 2017
According to figures published by the Police Federation of England and Wales last week, it is estimated that there are more than 6,600 assaults on police officers every day. Shockingly it reveals that there are around 2.4 million attacks on officers each year. This is 100 times more that the Home Office had estimated.
I am appalled at these figures and have previously written about my dismay at what officers can be subjected to while ‘just doing their job’. There were more than 40,000 injuries due to violence last year and that on average an assault on an officer happens every four minutes. This was one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind with some 17,000 police officers in England and Wales taking part. In my role I read about police officer assaults every morning in a daily briefing report I receive from the Constabulary and while these figures are not a surprise, they are no less shocking.
I have often say that police officers run towards danger when others run away. They go out every day knowing they could be placing themselves in harm so it’s vital that they have the right equipment, training and support to protect them while doing their job. I’ve provided funding for more than 2,000 body worn video cameras to frontline officers and PCSOs. Research shows that these cameras can de-escalate behaviour and often take that aggression out of a situation.
We must not forget about our other emergency service workers on the frontline too, such as paramedics, nurses and firefighters, who all deserve to be treated with respect and not face the threat of violence on a daily basis. I’m sure like me you have been gripped by the many new documentaries giving us an insight to our emergency services such as the BBC’s Ambulance and Hospital. It just shows the challenge, critical decision-making and care our first responders make to keep us safe and to save our lives.
Last week the Police and Crime Panel approved my decision to increase the policing part of the council tax by an extra £3.55 a year for the average household. This followed consultation with over 3,000 people who said they would support an increase. I’m always conscious of the fact that many residents are struggling with household bills and I never take a decision to raise the policing part of the council tax lightly.
Our grant from the government has decreased by over £2 million this year and our costs continue to rise. Most significantly there is increasing pressure on policing, particularly from increases in serious and complex crimes such as child sexual exploitation, cyber-crime and fraud. Over the next year we will still have to find nearly £9 million of savings. However, I still plan to spend over £275million a year on policing Avon and Somerset and spending will focus on protecting victims and our communities while also meeting these challenges.