Assaults on police officers and staff in County Durham and Darlington increased during the lockdown period, figures have revealed.
Durham Constabulary recorded 228 assaults on officers and staff between March and July this year – an increase of 26% when compared with the same period last year, in which 168 assaults were recorded.
A number of these assaults included incidents in which suspects have spat or coughed in officers’ faces and claimed they had Coronavirus.
Others include incidents where officers have been punched, kicked, head-butted, scratched, bitten or had glass bottles thrown at them.
The figures come as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing publish their Officer and Staff Safety Review, following the largest ever survey of police workforce.
The urgent review was undertaken following significant concern about assaults against officers and staff, and the severity of them.
As a result, a package of 28 recommendations has been approved by chief constables, with the aim of enhancing the safety of frontline officers and staff.
Some of the recommendations include an overhaul of safety training; reviewing the availability of equipment; new technology being trialled and a hard-line approach to the standard of response after an assault.
Chief Constable Jo Farrell, from Durham Constabulary, said: “Attacks on police officers and staff are unacceptable at any time, but they are especially appalling when these officers have worked tirelessly on the frontline to keep people safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our officers put their own lives on the line for the public every single day and assaults should never be seen as part of the job.
“Police officers are human beings who have every right to return home safely at the end of each shift.
“Attacks on officers not only have physical consequences, but can leave them with long-term psychological damage which is also often felt by their loved ones and colleagues.”
She added: “We need to ensure our officers have the very best tools, training and support that they need to protect the public and protect themselves.
“That is why we have continued to make sure our officers receive vital training throughout the pandemic, all while taking precautions to remain Covid-compliant.
“Policing is a hugely rewarding career, and our officers and staff join knowing that they will have to face some potentially dangerous situations.
“We welcome and support the recommendations and changes set out in the review, and will be working through them to implement them in County Durham and Darlington.”