Worrying rise in attacks on Lancashire Police officers
Shocking number of assaults every day in the county
Attacks on police in Lancashire hit a four-year high during the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of assaults across England and Wales has been described as "disgusting" by the Police Federation, which says many offences involved spitting and coughing during a time of fear over the spread of Covid-19.
Home Office data shows 804 attacks on police officers were recorded by Lancashire Constabulary between April 2020 and March 2021.
That was a significant increase from the 614 reported the previous year, and the highest number since comparable figures began in 2017-18.
Of the attacks in 2020-21, 191 resulted in an injury to the officer, compared to 135 the previous year, while in 613 cases the officer escaped physically unhurt.
The figures reflect a jump in such attacks across England and Wales, where recorded assaults on officers increased 14 per cent during the pandemic period, to around 37,000.
They included 11,200 which left officers injured.
The creation of “assault with injury on a constable” as a new category of crime five years ago has meant more assaults on officers are now recorded.
However, the Home Office said the figures are still likely to be an underestimate because the categories showing an attack on an officer do not include more serious offences such as attempted murder.
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation for England and Wales, said the data showed the "disgusting level of violence" faced by officers working throughout the pandemic.
He said: "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."
Under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, the maximum prison sentence for common assault on an emergency worker, including a police officer, is 12 months.
Mr Apter added: "This unjustified violence is a stain on society and needs to be dealt with robustly.”
The figures released by the Home Office also show in Lancashire there were 68 attacks recorded on emergency workers, other than police officers, which resulted in injury during 2020-21.
Across England and Wales, that number was 2,282.
The Home Office said it had provided funding to police forces in England and Wales for more than 7,000 Taser devices to help protect officers.
A spokesperson added: "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."