New figures show attacks on Harborough police officers have more than doubled throughout the Covid pandemic
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is now calling for tougher sentences for “thugs” who target the police
The number of attacks on police officers in Harborough have more than doubled throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, new Government figures show.
Assaults on policemen and women across Harborough district increased to 15 from April 2020 to March 2021 from seven offences the previous year.
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is now calling for tougher sentences for “thugs” who target the police.
He hit out as new statistics show there were 692 assaults on Leicestershire Police officers in the 12 months until March this year.
That’s the equivalent of almost two assaults on officers in the county every day of the year.
The number of incidents has rocketed by a staggering 57 per cent from 440 cases in the previous year.
That’s much bigger than the national spike of 14 per cent as the number of assaults on police in England and Wales climbed to 36,969.
Today Neil told the Harborough Mail: “This is a very serious problem that I have highlighted and written about time and again over the last few years.
“There is absolutely no excuse for attacking a police officer – in Harborough or anywhere else.
“I am very concerned about these shocking figures.
“We cannot allow police officers to become punchbags for the dregs of society,” said the Conservative MP.
“It’s simply not acceptable.
“We are making progress by having doubled sentences for assaults on police officers.
“An extra 20,000 officers nationally will also help – with many more coming here to Leicestershire,” said Neil, who has campaigned relentlessly for harsher punishments for violent criminals and serial offenders.
“But I’ll continue to press for the Government to go much further on cracking down.
“We have to make sure that anyone who assaults a police officer is given an exemplary sentence every time.
“Sentences were heading in the wrong direction but I’m confident we’ve turned a corner.
“I have been speaking to the Home Office as well as Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland to try to ensure that justice is done in our courts.
“Judges and magistrates have got the powers to punish thugs who attack police officers – and they should use them.
“There is no place in society for violent criminals who assault police officers as they risk their lives and well being upholding law and order and trying to keep our streets safe,” insisted Neil.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have witnessed police officers being subjected to a disgusting level of violence.
"We now have the figures to prove just how dire the situation has been for my colleagues on the ground.
“More than 100 of my colleagues are assaulted every single day - that’s a staggering number and something society must not accept.
"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.”
Imploring the courts to get tough, he added: “The sentencing guidelines have been changed.
“I would urge judges and magistrates to use these powers to set an example to those who are assaulting our colleagues, those responsible must spend time in prison.
“This unjustified violence is a stain on society and needs to be dealt with robustly.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “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, which is why we are doubling the maximum sentence for those who assault emergency workers.”
She added: “This year, as well as continuing to recruit 20,000 additional police officers, we will enshrine a police covenant in law to provide better support for our selfless officers, staff, and their families.
“One of the key areas of focus will be the physical protection of officers.”