The officer, understood to be 34-year-old PC Glen Hill, was injured after attending a call outside the Mailcoach Inn at Wellgate in Rotherham on Monday evening and taken to hospital. He has since been released.
Neil Bowles, the chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation which represents rank and file officers in the force, has told the Yorkshire Post PC Hill attended the scene from a different base, as the town centre support team was too busy despite it being a Monday evening.
Mr Bowles says the attack raised serious questions about the current staffing levels at South Yorkshire Police, which has lost around 170 officers in the past few years as a result of Home Office budget cuts.
“What I can say is if we are scratching around for officers to go to a job on a Monday evening that shows you how far the cuts have gone,” he added.
“How can we protect the public if we cannot protect our own?
“I have spoken to the Rotherham commander and he assures me he is looking at the management side of it.
“The police federation is very concerned about this particular incident and the level of violence used – it easily could have led to a death.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said there had been no failings in command or decision making in assessing the risk of the incident.
“The officer did respond to this incident on his own,” he added.
“This is force policy – officers are not routinely deployed ‘double crewed’ unless a risk assessment deems otherwise. Officers are single crewed to maximise availability and accessibility.
“Attacks on police officers are entirely unacceptable, as are attacks on anybody doing their job. Thankfully, serious assaults are rare and the public are generally supportive of the role of police.
“Assaults on officers such as this are a reminder of the risks involved in policing and the harm that officers put themselves in to protect the public every day.”