Welsh police ‘assaulted more than English officers’

Police in Wales have been assaulted more often during the coronavirus pandemic than their colleagues in England, a survey suggests.

The Police Federation found Welsh officers were more likely to have been insulted, threatened, hit or kicked.

More than a third had been insulted at least once a week, a quarter were threatened and 17% were attacked.

The Federation’s Welsh lead said it was possible a higher rate of Covid rule enforcement had made a difference.

The demand, capacity and welfare survey is carried out every two years.

A total of 888 Welsh officers took part, with 35% saying they were verbally insulted at least once a week, 24% reporting verbal threats at least once a week and 17% were physically attacked without a weapon.

The responses taken across seven weeks in October and November showed a higher response of six or seven percentage points than among English officers.

The Federation’s lead in Wales said the “tirade of abuse and assaults” was concerning.

“The survey was carried out while police forces were battling to enforce the Covid regulations,” said Mark Bleasdale.

“It is possible that as Welsh forces were more stringent with enforcing rules and travel bans they were subjected to more unacceptable abuse

“While the reasoning for the higher figures is not clear, what is crystal clear and, always has been, is that abuse of any sort towards police officers, is totally unacceptable.

“These people work tirelessly to protect the public at times they are most vulnerable and they should not be subject to any form of physical or verbal assault.”

Higher rates of stress

The survey also found that while fewer officers in Wales (42%) took sick leave than in England (49%), a higher proportion were doing so for stress, anxiety or depression – 34% compared to 31%.

A total of 70% of Welsh officers had gone to work while physically unwell and 71% had done so while mentally unwell, compared to 65% in both categories in England.

Thirty per cent viewed their job as very or extremely stressful.

Source: (BBC)