More than 600 police officers have been injured in assaults on the streets of South Yorkshire over the last four years, The Star can reveal.
Numbers stood at 50 assaults last year – down from a high in 2010 of 241.
The attacks – revealed as part of The Star’s Your Right To Know campaign, which aims to highlight hidden facts and figures that affect readers’ everyday lives – were condemned today by police chiefs.
But Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation which represents rank and file officers, said he feared the true numbers are even higher.
“I am glad to see numbers of recorded assaults dropping, but I am not sure this is a true reflection,” he said.
“Maybe officers are not reporting minor assaults, just like many victims are not reporting minor crimes to us.”
Last year a binge-drinking thug was jailed for attacking a policeman with his own CS spray in Rotherham.
PC Glen Hill was set upon outside The Mail Coach pub in Wellgate - punched repeatedly by Michael Dolan, aged 49, as he lay helpless on the ground.
PC Hill suffered cuts to his face and head which had to be glued and stitched, as well as psychological and emotional after-effects, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
The attack on PC Hill was one of 119 assaults on police officers in 2012 - down from 202 in 2011.
Mr Bowles insisted: “Nobody should be assaulted at work. Police officers are no exception – we are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job on behalf all members of society.
“Assaulting an officer is a crime against that society, and should be treated as such by the criminal justice system.”
As well as police officers, eight special constables and 15 Police Community Support Officers were attacked over the same four-year period from 2010 to 2013.
South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable David Crompton told The Star: “The men and women of the force do a fabulous job out there, sometimes in very dangerous and violent circumstances.
“It is completely unacceptable for them to fall victim of assault when all they are trying to do is their job.
“We have done our utmost to improve officer safety by giving them better protective equipment and training, but it is still very worrying to see we have these assaults.”
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt added: “Every day our officers are placed in challenging, difficult and often dangerous situations in order to protect members of our community and detect and prevent crime.
“They fulfil a role in society which will always carry a degree of risk, and when responding to incidents officers can find themselves faced with hostile individuals who may resist arrest and become abusive or violent.
“They are specially trained and equipped to deal with these situations but are not immune to being injured or assaulted.
“Frontline officers and staff receive annual personal safety training to minimise the risk of injury while serving the public and while the number of assaults on officers is reducing year on year, which is reassuring, it does not mean the job they do has got any easier.
“The force works hard to maximise the safety of its employees and will always deal robustly with assaults upon its staff and officers, as it does regarding assaults against any other member of the public.”