Tougher sentences ‘help right wrongs’

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation. Picture Scott Merrylees
Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation. Picture Scott Merrylees
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TOUGHER SENTENCES for those who abuse police officers would go some way to righting the wrongs that have, in the past, seen attacks go unreported and unpunished with no “sense of justice” for victims, police federations in Yorkshire have said.

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, who has lobbied in support of the bill, said outdated cultures within the force had changed as attacks became more frequent.

“We have come a long way, in that officers no longer accept that being attacked is ‘part of the job’,” he said. “It’s about educating officers that it is not acceptable and they need to record incidents to give a true picture of the dangers police officers face in our communities every day.

“Police officers in the past haven’t felt that sense of justice, so it has gone under-reported for too long. Ultimately, we need the legislative changes to give courts the power to sentence properly.

“We are past plaudits about how great the police and other emergency services are – the Government needs to put their 
money where their mouth is and get this passed.”

That cultural change has seen forces across Yorkshire develop support packages for the victims of assaults.

Zuleika Payne, incumbent chairman of South Yorkshire Police Federation, and a serving officer for 26 years, said the force had developed guidelines for dealing with police victims of assaults.

“For me, it’s important that fellow colleagues get the same level of care as members of the public,” she said.

“The day-to-day role of an officer is the prevention and detection of crime, and to protect life and property. The public have a legitimate expectation that we will do exactly that – but officers need to be able to go about their job safely.”

The chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation, Rob Bowles, said the national reduction in police numbers had “arguably contributed to the risks faced by officers”.

In the North East officer numbers have reduced by 19 per cent since 2010 with the loss of 3,736 officers across the region.

He said attacks were so prevalent because there isn’t enough of a deterrent for offenders, adding: “No police officer, nor any member of the emergency services, should have to expect to be assaulted just by virtue of their job.

“With this legislation the Government has acknowledged the difficult, challenging and sometimes dangerous role that police officers undertake.”

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