South Yorkshire Police boss condemns 'unacceptable' attacks on officers

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South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commission has condemned ‘unacceptable’ attacks on police officers.

Dr Alan Billings said in average an officer is attacked every four minutes across the country.

Last week a South Yorkshire officer was assaulted with a hammer while he attempted to make an arrest on Longley Hall Road and the county’s Police Federation said officers are assaulted ‘pretty much every day’ and called for harsher prison sentences for offenders.

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South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan BillingsSouth Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings

Dr Billings said: “It is estimated that across the country a frontline police officer is assaulted every four minutes. This is quite unacceptable.

“The number of assaults has reached unacceptable levels.

“We ask police officers to put themselves in harm’s way every day on our behalf. It is essential, therefore, that we give them all the support we can. That may include increasing the sentences available to the courts beyond the term that came in this year.

“Given the severity of some of these attacks, it seems quite wrong that of the 26,295 assaults in 2018, there were only convictions in 8,265 cases with only 1,103 resulting in a jail sentence.

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“If we are to be kept safe by the police we need to ensure in return that they are kept safe as they do their job.”

South Yorkshire Police Federation chairman, Steve Kent, said: “Yes, officers know the job is dangerous, but going home to their families covered in bruises, cuts or bitemarks should not become the norm.”

Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Our officers in South Yorkshire come to work every day and consistently demonstrate their commitment and dedication to serving their local communities and keeping people safe.

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“No officer should face violence or aggression in the course of their duties and we are doing all we can in South Yorkshire to prevent our officers being assaulted. This includes increasing our Taser capabilities, ensuring that around half of our frontline officers are equipped with this incredibly effective deterrent.

“In addition, we are continuously assessing and monitoring incidents for potential risk and harm with 24-hour command in place, to ensure that the appropriate resources are available to support our officers and help protect the public.

“We have absolutely zero tolerance for individuals who choose to be violent towards our officers and will work swiftly alongside partner agencies in the criminal justice system to bring individuals before the courts.”

Former South Yorkshire police officer Lisa Bates was left fighting for life after an attack while on duty in Sheffield in April 2016.

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Nathan Sumner struck her with an axe when she responded to a call about an incident at his flat on Plowright Close, Gleadless Valley.

PC Bates, who was an officer for 13 years but never returned to work afterwards, suffered a partially-severed finger and a fractured skull in the axe attack, having already broken her leg jumping down a staircase in an attempt to escape from Sumner.

Sumner was found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent and detained for 15 years, initially in a psychiatric hospital.