No evidence that cuts and an increase in single crewing is the reason for escalating numbers of attacks, says ACPO officer.
Falling officer numbers and an increase in single-crewing cannot be blamed for a rise in assaults of officers, the national police lead on workforce development has said.
There were 20,249 assaults on officers in the 12 months to April 2014 â€“ nearly 580 more attacks than in the previous financial year, exclusive research by PoliceOracle.com has shown.
But falling numbers are not responsible, according to Mike Cunningham, who is also the chief constable of Staffordshire Police.
Mr Cunningham said: â€œAre falling numbers to blame? There is no evidence of that.
â€œThere is no evidence to suggest single crewing is something which leads to more assaults because very often, in forces who advocate single crewing, there are all sorts of other risk assessments put in place and the equipment and training is far superior to what (officers) had previously.
â€œI understand why people draw that conclusion but I do not think it is accurate.â€
Mr Cunningham said that while there are fewer officers across the country, the proportion of personnel on the frontline has increased.
He added: â€œThere is good evidence that chief constables have taken retaining frontline officers seriously.
â€œI am absolutely certain that safe deployment practices are taking place around the country irrespective of single or double crewing.â€
However, Mr Cunningham was unable to pinpoint the exact reason why assaults on officers have risen in the past 12 months.
He added: â€œWhy are they increasing? I am not completely sure. We do know that the operational equipment that officers have is better than it has ever been, along with defensive training, safety training and the fact that officers are encouraged to be fitter.
â€œAny increase in assaults on police officers is something we need to be concerned about. A lot is done around the country to maintain officer safety so anything that gives us the indication that assaults on officers is going up we need to listen very carefully to.â€
Mr Cunningham listed body cameras, Taser, improvements to protective clothing as developments that are helping to protect personnel.
He also said improvements to fitness standards in forces will keep officers safer. The chief added: â€œFitness testing makes sure that officers have the physical capability when they are on the streets to deal with situations â€“ if you are physically fit it enables you to better deal with situations of conflict.â€
Policing would always be a risky profession, CC Cunningham said, and while he accepted it the job of chiefs to mitigate risk, they would never be able to take it away completely
He added: â€œWe should always remember that when people signed up to be police officers, they signed up to do a job that does carry risk. Indeed for some people that is part of the attraction.
â€œMany officers take pride in the fact that they put themselves in harmâ€™s way to protect people. That risk element will always be there and it is the job of people like me â€“ managers and the leadership â€“ to manage that risk as well as we can to support those that protect the public.â€
From Police Oracle