A video posted on social media has exposed the appalling level of abuse faced by police. In the short clip, two officers in Merton, South London are assaulted during a routine traffic stop, with a male suspect seen ‘karate kicking’ a female officer to the ground – just yards away from the path of an oncoming bus.
The officer sustained head injuries, whilst her male colleague suffered cuts after being dragged across the floor by a suspect attempting to flee. Several cars can be seen driving past without stopping to help until eventually a member of the public steps in to assist.
In the video the man filming can be heard laughing and making fun of the officers instead of coming to their aid. After the video was uploaded to Twitter, the incident hit the headlines last week as it demonstrates the current lack of respect towards police forces.
It prompted the Chairman of the Met Police Federation, Ken Marsh, to suggest that the severity of attacks faced by officers, coupled with the lack of support from the public could mean in some cases that violent suspects are let go.
He said: “Are we now in a society where, if we think we can’t detain somebody, we just let them go? It’s just not worth it.
“We’re going to come to a point where we’re going to start pushing messages out to our colleagues: ‘Risk-assess it dynamically and, if you think you can’t detain a person, just let them go.’
However, in response to Mr Marsh’s comments, Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police, Sir Steve House, urged the public to put their own safety first and dial 999 if they see officers being attacked.
He commented: “While any officer would be grateful for the public to assist them with a difficult arrest, they should only intervene if they can safely do so.”
Sadly, this recent incident is nothing new. Officers experience similar attacks on a daily basis as the last three years in particular has seen assaults on police rise. Official figures show in the past 12 months there were 26,295 assaults on police officers in England and Wales. The actual number could be much higher as one former Met officer commented, “I think a lot of it goes massively unreported.”
He added, “I knew officers that were stabbed, punched, kicked, spat at [or] scratched so that they bled as a relatively regular occurrence.”
It’s not just the police that are on the receiving end of violence. Attacks on NHS staff are at a five year high, with one in seven employees having suffered an assault. The threat is so high that some Paramedics have reportedly been advised to take self-defence lessons to defend themselves.
Earlier this month, The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act came into effect to protect 999 staff and other blue light volunteers. Under the new laws the maximum jail term for assaulting an emergency services worker has doubled from 6 to 12 months.
MP Holly Lynch, who has campaigned for greater protection for emergency workers summed up the current situation as, ‘absolutely unacceptable,’ adding that “many hard-working men and women face serious assault and abuse simply for doing their jobs trying to keep us all safe and well.”