Assaults on police officers in South Yorkshire nearly double

Nathan Sumner was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for attacking PC Lisa Bates with an axe (SWNS/Tom Maddick)
Nathan Sumner was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for attacking PC Lisa Bates with an axe (SWNS/Tom Maddick)
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Police officers in South Yorkshire are increasingly coming under attack while trying to protect our streets, shocking new figures reveal.

The number of officers being assaulted or wounded attempting to make arrests across South Yorkshire has nearly doubled over the last five years.

PC Lisa Bates

PC Lisa Bates

Last year, 256 injuries were reported by officers who had been assaulted or involved in a violent struggle trying to detain a suspect. In 2013, that figure was 129.

The statistics, obtained through a Freedom of Information request by The Star, show one officer was seriously injured last year and six more required at least seven days off work after being attacked or wounded making arrests.

Already this year, 20 officers have been injured in assaults, with one seriously wounded and four more requiring a week or more's recuperation before returning to work.

In April last year, PC Lisa Bates was left with a partially-severed finger, a fractured skull and a broken leg after being attacked by axeman Nathan Sumner while responding to what was believed to be a routine call in Gleadless Valley, Sheffield. Her attacker was convicted of GBH and sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

In November 2015, three police officers were injured - one seriously - after trouble flared on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield during bonfire night.

South Yorkshire Police launched a campaign following the sickening attack on PC Bates, encouraging staff to report their injuries.

It believes that could be partially responsible for the spike in injuries recorded in 2016, though the number had risen steadily during preceding years.

Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley, of SYP, said officers were 'acutely aware' of the dangers they may face while on duty but the attack on PC Bates had 'really brought it home'.

"Since the launch of the campaign, we have seen an increase in the number of officers reporting incidents to us.

"We have a detailed and thorough internal process to support officers who have been injured while on duty and we will always do everything we can to ensure their welfare.

"Our eight-point plan relating to assaults on police officers and staff details our commitment to ensuring that if our people are assaulted we will investigate with the same care, compassion and commitment as we would an assault on a member of the public."

He added that supervisors always assessed the risk before sending officers on jobs to ensure they were properly equipped.

The Police Federation, which represents officers across England and Wales, has called for harsher sentences for those who assault emergency service workers.

Its campaign to 'Protect the Protectors' has been backed by Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who earlier this year introduced a bill to make assaults against police, firefighters or medical staff a specific offence.

Ms Lynch said: "To assault a police officer is to show a complete disregard for law and order, our shared values and democracy itself, and that must be reflected in sentencing, particularly for those who are repeat offenders."

During 2016, a total of 445 injuries to on-duty police officers in South Yorkshire were recorded, up from 367 in 2013.

The most common cause of injury last year, other than assaults or violent arrests/struggles, was officers being hit by a moving vehicle. There were 35 such cases reported throughout 2016, though none resulted in a lengthy sick period.

Other injuries last year were attributed to various causes, including animals (13), blood contamination (2), fall from height (3) and exposure to heat, fire or explosion (1)

Number of officers assaulted or injured while making arrests in South Yorkshire

2017 (to date): 72

2016: 256

2015: 180

2014: 171

2013: 129