A police boss says the majority frontline officers in North Wales should be armed with tasers so they can protect themselves from an increasing number of assaults.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones spoke out after a shocking series of attacks over the August Bank Holiday across the region including Flintshire.
One policeman had his eye gouged, another suffered a broken nose and five more were assaulted, including being head butted and kicked.
Last year figures showed a dramatic trebling in the number of assaults on police in North Wales over the previous five years.
The force is now setting up a specialist group to review the assaults in detail, which will report to the Force Operations Committee.
The commissioner, a former police inspector, believes the severe financial cuts imposed by the Government are at least partly to blame for the rise in attacks.
Mr Jones has consistently backed calls for the courts to impose more serious punishments on people who attack the police.
He supported the new Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill earlier this year.
The new law has now passed a third reading in the House of Lords and is expected to receive Royal Assent in the Autumn.
As a results, the sentences that the courts can impose will be doubled. He said:
“As the recent Bank Holiday has shown, unfortunately, the number and seriousness of assaults on police officers is increasing all the time and part of the reason for this is the swingeing cuts imposed on the police year after year.
These cuts have serious consequences and the fact that more and more police officers are being attacked is an indication of this.
Here in North Wales we are now strengthening the front line and since I took office two years ago the force has recruited more than 50 new officers and we are aiming to continue with the recruitment.
The attacks over the Bank Holiday weekend in North Wales were despicable. The assaults are becoming more and more serious. One officer’s nose was broken another had his jaw broken and had to wait for a long time to be treated in hospital.
I would like to give more confidence and support to police officers to use more force to protect and safeguard themselves if they come under attack when they’re on duty.
We as a force also need to get behind our officers and support them especially when they use force to protect themselves and the public.
The law is clear, it allows officers to defend themselves and I welcome the recent intervention of the Chief Constable of Lancashire in support of one of his officers who was criticised for use of force.
Everybody, whether they are a police officers or a member of the public, has the right to protect themselves from being assaulted.
A higher percentage of officers in North Wales carry tasers than is the case in many forces but I would now like to see the majority of officers equipped with a taser when they are out on the streets so they can protect themselves.
These attacks on the women and men who put their lives in the line to keep us safe are contemptable.
The introduction of tougher sentences will send a clear message that these attacks on our front line officers will not be tolerated.
The officers put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe so we must protect those who protect us.”
A survey of North Wales Police has found 79% of officers want access to Taser at all times on duty, a Police Federation of England and Wales’ survey has found.
The study explored officers’ views on firearms, examining the level of satisfaction with their current access to armed support, and their views on routine arming and other protective measures and equipment.
The survey found that in North Wales Police:
- 79 per cent of respondents (for whom it is applicable to their role) want access to Taser at all times on duty;
- 53 per cent of respondents’ lives had been in serious danger at least once in the last two years;
- 80 per cent of respondents were not satisfied that armed support would be readily available should they require it; and
- 35 per cent of respondents personally supported the idea of routine arming.