Police officers in South Yorkshire attacked 57 times in a year

Police Federation chairman Neil Bowles
Police Federation chairman Neil Bowles
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Police officers in South Yorkshire reported 57 assaults over 12 months - but it is feared bobbies may not be recording all incidents, skewing the true picture.

The attacks, in which officers were hit, kicked, spat at and punched between April 2013 and March 2014, were down from 66 incidents year before.

The figure is one of the lowest in the country, but South Yorkshire Police Federation officials, who represent rank and file bobbies, suspects the true number of attacks could be higher.

Federation chairman Neil Bowles said he was ‘sure assaults in South Yorkshire are going unrecorded,’ adding that the officers he represents ‘could be safer’.

He said: “I am getting anecdotal evidence of shifts in the middle of Sheffield turning out with so few numbers that people are saying how can we keep the people safe if we can’t keep each other safe?

“I am telling our members to make sure everything is recorded – including near misses, under the health and safety banner, so that we can get a true picture of what is actually happening.”

He said South Yorkshire Police’s policy of sending officers ‘single crewed’ to incidents needed looked at.

“I would say to the force that this risk assessment with single crewing needs to be far more robust to assess jobs that officers are going for. It’s got to be dynamic from the communications centre – to be aware of what they are sending officers to and supervisors to be listening to the radio so that they know what officers are going to,” he added.

In November 2012 PC Glen Hill was punched and repeatedly struck with a canister of incapacitant spray when he turned up alone to deal with a disturbance at The Mail Coach pub in Rotherham.

His attacker Michael Dolan, 50, of Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham, was jailed for two years and eight months.

Steve Evans, vice chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “Clearly the number of police officers on the streets have gone down and people know that. If visible presence has gone down – does that make people feel more confident to have a go at a police officer?”

Assistant Chief Constable Jo Byrne said: “Any and all assaults on police officers and staff are recorded and investigated to the same robust and thorough standard as any investigation into reports of assault on a member of the public.

“Officers are specially trained and equipped to deal with the often challenging and difficult situations they face, but of course they are not immune to being injured or assaulted in the course of their duties protecting members of our community, detecting and preventing crime.

“Frontline officers and staff receive annual personal safety training to minimise the risk of injury while serving the public. In addition, officers and staff within our control room have risk assessment training so reports coming in can be appropriately and dynamically assessed and sufficient resources deployed.

“If any officer feels that a situation is becoming increasingly challenging, they are encouraged to request additional support and this is treated with the utmost urgency within the control room.”