‘Bad press’ link to attacks on police

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CRITICISM of police by politicians and the media could be to blame for an increase in assaults on officers in West Yorkshire, it is claimed.

Nick Smart of West Yorkshire’s Police Federation says recent publicity undermining the police service may be making people “more likely to have a go at officers” in the county.

Figures show there were 280 assaults on West Yorkshire Police officers that caused injury in the year to April, compared with 241 in the same period in 2013. According to website Police Oracle there were 20,249 assaults on officers across the country in the same period, nearly 580 more attacks than the previous year.

In December West Yorkshire Pc Suzanne Hudson was badly injured after being shot while attending a call in Leeds. The number of assaults on officers has dropped in recent years, despite the number of police officers falling dramatically as a result of austerity measures, but the new statistics suggest the trend may be reversing.

Mr Smart, whose organisation represents rank and file officers, says equipment and defence training had improved but “the threat on the streets is still there”. He said: “Policing is a dangerous job, it doesn’t help with some elements of the national media and politicians undermining us in everything we do. Is that a factor in people being more likely to have a go at officers? That is something that has not been probed.”

Trust in the police service has been damaged by a number of recent controversies, including the ‘Plebgate’ scandal and the damning report into the Stephen Lawrence case. West Yorkshire Temporary Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said: “Police officers and staff fulfil a unique role in society.

“One assault is one too many and that is why all officers and staff receive a high level of professional training and accreditation, to reduce the risk of assault and injury on duty.”

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