Calls for tougher penalties as assaults on East Area police officers increase sharply
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 October 2020
A senior cop has called for harsher penalties for assaults on police officers, which have risen sharply across Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham.
Figures released by East Area BCU show that the total number of these offences across the three boroughs in June, July and August this year was 151, compared to 84 in the same three months in 2019 and 65 in 2018.
Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, head of local investigations for East Area, felt that more needs to be done to make it less acceptable.
Current sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of an assault on an emergency worker range from a fine to one year imprisonment.
Det Supt Trevers said: “We’re seeing a real spike in officers being assaulted in their patrols.
“I think it’s a social problem. There used to be this respect for officers on the street. Ninety-nine per cent of the time that’s still there, but no officer comes into work to be assaulted or spat at or abused, racially or otherwise.
“I think it’s becoming almost more acceptable to assault officers. I think as an organisation and locally we don’t see the most severe penalties for those convicted of those assaults.
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“We need to make it more unacceptable society wise. I think some of the penalties probably aren’t as off-putting for people considering it.”
In recent weeks, Sergeant Matt Ratana died after being shot at Croydon Custody Centre while a 15-year-old boy from Barking is one of two teenagers charged in connection with the stabbing of a police officer in Westminster last Sunday (October 4).
Keith Prince, London Assembly member for Havering and Redbridge, agreed with Det Supt Trevers that tougher sentences are needed for assaults on all emergency workers.
He told this paper: “These people literally put their lives on the line for us.
“Each day when they leave home and say goodbye to their loved ones, the nature of their jobs means there is no guarantee that they will return.
“We owe them a great debt of gratitude and the very least we can do is give them the greatest protection we can within the law.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the government published plans last month to increase the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker to two years.
The spokesperson said: “Police officers dedicate their lives to protect us - it’s unacceptable to assault them and should never be part of the job.”
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