The battered blue line: Police officers were attacked 80 times a day in 2021, new figures reveal… indicating there could have been more than 29,000 assaults this year

  • Over a three-month period there were at least 7,357 assaults against officers
  • There was a 21 per cent rise in assaults last year compared with the year before 
  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary reported an increase of 121 per cent this year

An average of 80 police officers were assaulted each day this year, shocking figures suggest.

Over a three-month period there were at least 7,357 assaults against officers, constables and volunteers in Britain – indicating there could have been more than 29,000 attacks during 2021.

There was a 21 per cent rise in assaults last year compared with the year before, and the levels were sustained this year.

Over a three-month period there were at least 7,357 assaults against officers, constables and volunteers in Britain – indicating there could have been more than 29,000 attacks during 2021 (stock image)

There were 7,294 assaults from March 23 to June 23 last year, compared with 6,036 over the same period in 2019.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary reported an increase of 121 per cent, with 128 attacks between March 23 and June 23 this year, up from 58 last year. 

This is a 212 per cent rise on 2019, when the force recorded 41 assaults.

Cambridgeshire chief constable Nick Dean said his force suffered roughly one assault a day and there had been a rise in spitting on officers to ‘use Covid as a weapon’.

He added: ‘The nature of assault can really range from very serious to what we can class as lower-tier assaults such as being pushed or kicked, or what is very prevalent – being spat at. None of that, at any level, is acceptable within policing.’

One officer was assaulted so violently in February that he suffered a bleed to the brain and required major surgery, Mr Dean said. 

The officer was struck over the head by a man who had attacked his own father.

‘It [the violence] has an impact on the officer, it has an impact on their family and friends, and I have to say it has an impact upon the organisation,’ he added.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary reported an increase of 121 per cent, with 128 attacks between March 23 and June 23 this year, up from 58 last year (stock image)

Mr Dean said he believes the rise is due to increased mental health problems exacerbated by the pandemic, and politically charged protests over issues such as climate change and Black Lives Matter.

‘People are suffering much more from mental health and wellbeing issues, which have clearly increased during the lockdown, and the restrictive periods and in society in general,’ the chief constable said.

The other largest rises in attacks were seen by Dorset Police (80 per cent), Merseyside (41 per cent) and Avon and Somerset (40 per cent).

Just 31 of 43 police forces in England and Wales responded to a Freedom of Information request, meaning the total is likely to be much higher.

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