Level of assaults on police officers “entirely unacceptable”: Buchanan

DUP Mid Ulster MLA and Policing Board representative Keith Buchanan has expressed alarm at the high level of assaults on police officers in Northern Ireland.

By Keith Buchanan MLA

Mid Ulster

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Mr Buchanan said,

‘‘It is entirely unacceptable that on average eight PSNI officers are assaulted every day in Northern Ireland. This includes being punched, head butted, kicked, bitten and spat on.

Given that sickness absence among local police officers is double the level recorded in England and Wales, undoubtedly attacks are, in part at least, leading to disproportionately high levels of physical and mental ill-health within the PSNI.

Whilst a Strategy has been developed by the police to improve the welfare of officers, we must however, move beyond aspiration to action and better outcomes. We need action to prevent risks and ensure officers receive appropriate treatment in a timely manner.

It is hugely welcome that the Chief Constable has recognised the role he can, and must, play in that process. Under the PSNI’s current Nine-Point-Plan for dealing with assaults, consideration is supposed to be given to the potential for the Chief Constable to make a personal impact statement to the courts when someone is prosecuted for attacking the PSNI’s officers or staff. In recent years, this practice seems to have been overlooked for purely bureaucratic reasons and it is right that Jon Boutcher makes it a priority to support injured officers in this way.

Ultimately, those carrying out the assaults must be faced down and held accountable with a sentence that fits the crime. Police officers in Northern Ireland serve everyone and should not be a soft target for these vicious and debilitating attacks.’’

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