The call for an emergency summit by police chiefs to improve officer safety in the wake of a spate of serious incidents is positive, but must be more than just words observes the Police Federation of England and Wales. Next month, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will gather to gauge the current threat to officers before discussing what can be done to better protect them. The Federation has been asked to provide input into the meeting where each chief will be invited to share their views on the wave of officer assaults.
National chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said: “We welcome this action from the NPCC to work towards improving the safety of our members who put their lives on the line to protect the public they serve, but this must be more than just talk. This emergency summit is crucial and action must be taken now, feels the Federation.
Assaults on officers show no signs of abating, having risen from 26,000 last year to 30,000 this year, not to mention the shocking incidents over the last month.
Apter continued: “The NPCC has asked the Federation to contribute to next month’s discussion where we will once again be pushing police chiefs to commit to rolling-out Taser to all who want it. I will continue to play my part in lobbying Government to fund this essential equipment centrally. Officers are telling me daily they’re feeling vulnerable due to the lack of this vital, life-saving protective equipment.”
Also, Apter stated: “I know police chiefs want to do the right thing, but they must also be seen to do the right thing. I hear all the time from leaders within policing that officers and staff are their most valuable asset, but now they need to prove it. Well-being needs to be more than just words on a poster on the wall. It’s paramount that officers receive the right tools to do their jobs.”
The Federation’s renewed call for a wider roll-out of Taser follows a series of high-profile attacks. Earlier this month, Metropolitan Police Service officer Stuart Outten survived a machete attack after stopping a van in east London, while a West Midlands Police officer, Gareth Phillips, was run over by a suspected car thief in Birmingham.
PC Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Police tragically lost his life earlier this month after responding to reports of a burglary.
Apter continued: “The rise in single-crewing is also making officers feel more isolated and leaves them in a position where they’re more likely to be attacked. We’ve lost almost 22,000 boots on the ground since 2010, so what we want to see now is the Government carrying out its recruitment pledge to boost officer numbers by 20,000 to help tackle this issue. At the end of the day, both our members and the general public deserve better. The state policing has been left in is putting their lives at risk. This is unacceptable.”