A police officer was knocked unconscious in an attack in Leeds – after returning a missing child to their home.
The 50-year-old officer had to be treated in hospital after being assaulted from behind by another man as he arrived with the 16-year-old girl on Kentmere Avenue in Seacroft on Saturday morning.
He was attacked after intervening when he saw a man and a woman arguing.
A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault. An 18-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a police officer. Both have been released on bail.
West Yorkshire Police chiefs say they are becoming increasingly concerned about violence against officers and staff after 51 assaults in the last six weeks – more than one a day.
In a later incident on Saturday night, a police officer who stopped a car near the Owlcotes Centre in Pudsey was assaulted by four men who then drove off.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom said criticism of the police service in general was having a “corrosive and generally debilitating effect on the reputation of individual officers”.
“We are becoming increasingly concerned about the number and nature of assaults being committed upon our officers, which is highlighted by the incidents this weekend and the additional research we are now undertaking with our local staff representatives,” he said.
“We welcome the recent decision of the Home Office to again monitor police assaults having stopped doing so since 2010 - by not doing so, a vital overview of officer safety has been missing during a period of reducing police numbers.
“More importantly, the absence of this national data has limited the understanding of the daily realities our front line officers are now facing and the degree to which they feel they are being supported - although I do feel officers still enjoy the wider support of the general public who respect the difficult job they do in keeping our streets safe.
“We accept the need to be to be fully accountable for our actions. However I cannot remember a time when negative criticism of the police has been so quickly levelled and assumed to be correct, sometimes by high or influential profile voices.
“It is beginning to feel that this negative criticism is having a corrosive and generally debilitating effect on the reputation of individual officers on the street, whose personal responsibility is far removed from the many high profile police issues dominating the headlines. I cannot say with certainty that the constant barrage of criticism of policing is leading to increased levels of assaults upon our officers, but I believe worrying signs are there.
“British policing relies upon us earning the consent of the public and in turn enjoying their support. We do not always get it right and we need to be sorry when this happens and learn from our mistakes. However in the majority of cases, our officers do get it right and act with good intentions.
“If you, as I, occasionally wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something important you have to do the following day; next time just take a second to pause, because at that moment, somewhere in West Yorkshire, an officer will be intervening in a violent domestic dispute, tackling a drunk or rescuing a vulnerable person who has been reported missing.
“Our officers are not superheroes, they are ordinary people doing a very difficult job as best they can. Knowing they have their communities behind them makes all the difference.”