Attacks on police force covering Aylesbury hit four-year high during pandemic

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"This unjustified violence is a stain on society and needs to be dealt with robustly.”

Attacks on the Thames Valley Police force. which operates in Aylesbury, hit a four-year high during the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal, with officers assaulted four times a day on average.

The number of assaults across England and Wales has been described as "disgusting" by the Police Federation, which says many offences involved spitting and coughing during a time of fear over the spread of Covid-19.

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Home Office data shows 1,313 attacks on police officers were recorded by Thames Valley Police between April 2020 and March 2021.

Assaults on the Thames Valley Police reached a 4-year highAssaults on the Thames Valley Police reached a 4-year high
Assaults on the Thames Valley Police reached a 4-year high

That was an increase from the 1,083 reported the previous year, and the highest number since comparable figures began in 2017-18.

Of the attacks in 2020-21, 242 resulted in an injury to the officer, compared to 209 the previous year, while in 1,071 cases the officer escaped physically unhurt.

The figures reflect a jump in such attacks across England and Wales, where recorded assaults on officers increased 14% during the pandemic period, to around 37,000.

They included 11,200 which left officers injured.

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The creation of “assault with injury on a constable” as a new category of crime five years ago has meant more assaults on officers are now recorded.

However, the Home Office said the figures are still likely to be an underestimate because the categories showing an attack on an officer do not include more serious offences such as attempted murder.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, said the data showed the "disgusting level of violence" faced by officers working throughout the pandemic.

He said: "More than 100 of my colleagues are assaulted every single day – that’s a staggering number and something society must not accept.

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"Many of these recorded attacks involve vile individuals who have spat on or coughed at police officers, weaponising the virus and threatening to spread it to them and their families."

Under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, the maximum prison sentence for common assault on an emergency worker, including a police officer, is 12 months.

Mr Apter added: "This unjustified violence is a stain on society and needs to be dealt with robustly.”

The figures released by the Home Office also show in Thames Valley there were 23 attacks recorded on emergency workers, other than police officers, which resulted in injury during 2020-21.

Across England and Wales, that number was 2,282.

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The Home Office said it had provided funding to police forces in England and Wales for more than 7,000 Taser devices to help protect officers.

A spokesperson added: "Our brave police officers go to work every day to protect the public and being attacked should never be part of the job.

“Anyone who commits these despicable assaults should expect to face the full force of the law."