‘It is becoming a depressingly regular occurrence’ - Great Yarmouth police chief calls for tougher action on police assaults
- Credit: Nick Butcher
People who punch and spit at police officers must have tougher action taken against them.
That is the message from top Great Yarmouth police officer, Superintendent Roger Wiltshire, who said a stronger deterrent is needed to tackle the “escalating and worrying issue”.
The call comes after a 22-year-old man spat at two police officers in Marine Parade on Sunday.
Supt Wiltshire said: “I think it is a growing problem across the country, both in terms of the volume of assaults and the type of assaults.
“We have six foot blokes who think nothing of punching a small female officer in the face - that didn’t really happen when I was first in the police, but that seems to happen quite commonly now. Often the people who are involved are under the influence of misused drugs or alcohol.
“If people don’t have the moral balance I think there needs to be a stronger deterrent.”
Ryan Webb, of Lowestoft, was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison for spitting at the officers at the weekend, and Supt Wiltshire said the case highlighted the regularity of such offences and the positive impact of strong sentencing.
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He said: “Officers are not getting assaulted trying to stop bank robberies, they are getting assaulted for the most mundane, routine jobs - particularly domestic incidents.
“What’s notable about the guy at the weekend is that he actually got no further action for the original offence, but he ended up getting 20 weeks for assaulting a police officer.
“There’s no doubt that the strong sentence has had a really positive impact on morale here because officers feel satisfied that the courts have taken it seriously and the offender has received an adequate sentence.”
Supt Wiltshire added that increased assaults posed more than just a safety risk to officers.
He said: “A former chief constable once said that policing is a contact sport, and I think everybody accepts that.
“But it is becoming a depressingly regular occurrence that officers who come to work end up going home or to hospital with injuries, which of course has an effect on the families too.
“Beyond the risk of injuries and the impact on morale, assaults can also deter good people from joining the police service, and we need to get and retain the best people. So we need the criminal justice system to support us.”