Sunday Life

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Stiff jail sentences needed to deter assaults on cops, says outgoing Police Federation chief


Mark Lindsay

Mark Lindsay

Mark Lindsay

There have been fresh calls for tougher action to crack down on attacks on police officers here.

It comes as Sunday Life lays bare the terrible toll those assaults have taken on some officers.

Mark Lindsay, who has just stepped down from the Police Federation after more than 30 years in the service, told Sunday Life: “Sometimes the silence from our legislators and our Assembly is disappointing to say the least.

“If that was in any other profession such as teaching or healthcare, there would be a vast outcry. But somehow it seems socially acceptable to attack police officers.

“Sentences and proper legislation are very important, send out a message that if you raise your hand or take a weapon to a police officer, are caught and convicted, expect to go to prison.”

As well as almost 1,000 officers injured last year alone, countless others narrowly escaped being hurt. There were more than 600 near misses in 2021 — those targeted but not physically injured.

Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson told Sunday Life officers “deserve to do their job free from fear of violence’’.

“They have been confronted with unacceptable violence and abuse while serving on the frontline, but they have shown tremendous bravery and professionalism when faced with danger,’’ he says.

“The impact of an assault on an officer must never be underestimated. While statistics tell one story, they don’t show the impact an assault on an officer has — not just on the officer themselves, but on their loved ones and how it affects their family life.”

Police chiefs say there is a lot of support in-house for officers assaulted in the line of duty when it comes to investigation and welfare.

And they are keen to stress everything is done to make sure it doesn’t impact on the work they do on the ground within communities.

“We also know that not all assaults are reported, and we are working to ensure more consistent reporting of assaults so we can capture their experiences,’’ adds Ch Supt Donaldson.

“Collectively, as a society, we must get the message across that it’s completely unacceptable to assault or attack a police officer, or indeed any emergency service worker.

“Our selfless officers are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers and when one of them is assaulted, it is an attack on all of us.”

Outgoing Federation boss Mr Lindsay has this fear if attacks continue to rise: “People will join the police if they want to join, but I think the problem is around retaining people who are subject to assaults over their career.”

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