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Improvements promised for police safety

09 September 2020

OFFICER SAFETY training to be overhauled and every police chief to review the equipment available to the frontline, following the findings of a review and safety survey commissioned by the NPCC and College of Policing last year.

A full-scale review of officer and staff safety has been completed, informed by the views of over 40,000 officers and staff in a national safety survey conducted by the College of Policing. The review was commissioned in response to concerns about rising assaults and increased violence against officers.

In September 2019, NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt commissioned a team of police officers and staff to work with the College of Policing to gather professional expertise, review available evidence and make recommendations to improve officer and staff safety. All 28 recommendations were unanimously agreed by Chief Constables’ Council in January 2020.

Publication of this report was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has also highlighted issues of safety for frontline officers and staff. Work has been underway since then to begin implementing the recommendations of this review and improve safety of officers and staff.

Provisional figures released by the NPCC throughout the pandemic show a continuing trend of increased assaults against emergency service workers. In the most recent figures released, taking a snapshot of crime for the four weeks to the 2 August 2020, and comparing it to the same four week period in 2019, forces saw a 31 per cent increase in assaults against emergency workers. It is thought the rise may be driven by increases in common assaults on police constables, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt said, “In this Review, we have followed the evidence, listened to the concerns of those within the service, and heard the views of the public.

“The Review and the breadth of its recommendations show that there is no one piece of equipment that is the answer to all violent and threatening situations. Instead, chief constables have agreed a broad package of measures that will significantly enhance the safety of our brave and hardworking frontline.

“We’re overhauling safety training, trialling new technology and tactics, reviewing the availability of equipment and taking a hard line on the standard of response after an assault. Chiefs have also agreed to take suggestions for legislative change to government to further protect officers and staff.

“The primary purpose of the police service is to keep the public safe. Having well trained and equipped officers and staff allows us to fulfil that purpose as well as our responsibility to do all we can to protect our people.

“Policing is a career with huge rewards but front line police officers and staff join knowing they face some risks and will sometimes have to run towards danger. Those risks can never be eliminated completely but, as these changes are implemented, we do expect to see a reduction in the number of assaults and greater satisfaction in the response after an assault.”