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'An assault on a police officer should never be seen as part of the job'

Police Oracle's BluePrint campaign highlights trauma officers face on daily basis

Too often the sentences handed down to violent offenders who assaulted a police officer do not reflect the severity of the crime.

A review of sentences for those convicted of assaulting an officer is badly needed.

Police Oracle's BluePrint campaign is calling for such measures.

In collaboration with the Police Federation and its Protect the Protectors initiative, our BluePrint campaign calls on the government to meet its obligation of protecting our officers both in the job and when they have been forced out of the service because of physical injuries or mental trauma.

Less than two years ago it had been estimated that 23,000 officers were assaulted annually but we now know that figure is much higher.

The Fed's latest welfare survey data suggest there were potentially more than two million physical assaults on officers last year. There were a further 302,842 attacks with the offenders using or carrying a deadly weapon during the same period. 

Together with the Police Federation, Police Oracle wants to see more consistent reporting of assaults on police officers, better training, more access to equipment such as body-worn video, Taser and spit and bite guards as well as improved welfare support for assaulted officers.

Vice Chairman, Calum Macleod, said: "Police officers face extraordinary situations and risks every day and these can often happen in the blink of an eye. Quite simply an assault on a police officer or any other emergency worker is abhorrent and should never be seen as a part of the role they perform for the public.

"We are not satisfied that the legal system treats these matters with the severity they deserve and are calling for a holistic review of sentencing guidelines and legislative changes to protect our officers and those other public servants who daily work for the benefit of the communities they serve."

Over the coming weeks, Police Oracle will highlight case studies of officers who were assaulted, reporting on the impact the attack had on them, mentally and physically, and also the trauma some faced returning to duty.

  • Sliced with a Stanley knife

Two brave police officers were attacked by a man armed with a Stanley knife and garden tools described as having ‘superhuman strength’.

Cambridgeshire’s PC Pete Moulton and PC Janine Hagger were called by the family of a mentally ill man who had attacked his mother and fled.

When they confronted him he refused to give up a knife he was carrying and seemed impervious to PAVA spray. He lunged at PC Moulton, inflicting a six centimetre wound to the officer’s neck. PC Hagger was also punched and kicked and received a cut to the hand as she attempted to wrestle the knife away. PC Moulton was also bitten.

The officers fended their attacker off with garden furniture for several minutes while they waited for back-up. The man came at them with a garden fork and armed himself with a saw and shears.

As reinforcements arrived the man fled to a nearby property and held the saw to the throat of a member of the public. Police deployed Taser on him but he broke free. Eventually he was overcome and sedated later at hospital.

PCs Hagger and Moulton were left injured and exhausted by the ordeal. They went on to win a Police Bravery Award for their actions.

  • Savagely bitten

Heathrow Airport based PC Nigel Goodenough was bitten after he approached a woman who was sleeping rough in the terminal.

She became very aggressive and as the officer attempted to restrain her, she lunged forward and bit his leg as hard as she could. PC Goodenough, who has been punched and kicked many times in his 16-year career, said the bite was a first adding: “It’s not something you can prepare for.” 

The woman refused to give a blood sample to rule out the risk that she may have a communicable disease so the officer was put on a course of anti-viral drugs for 28 days that made him violently ill.

PC Goodenough said: “I felt so awful taking the drugs that I literally don’t know how I would have managed to take them for the full 28-day course had she not consented to giving a sample eventually - which meant I could stop taking them after four days. It could have meant missing six weeks of work.

“It also had a very bad effect on my wife living with the unknown during that period and seeing what effects the drugs were having on me.”

PC Goodenough thinks the law needs to be changed so that people who bite or spit at officers are required to give a blood sample if infection is suspected.