Thousands of Merseyside Police officers attacked amid dramatic rise in national assaults

New data shows there have been thousands of assaults on police officers in recent years
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)

Thousands of Merseyside Police officers have been attacked in recent years mirroring a dramatic rise in assaults around the country.

Newly obtained data has shown national assaults on police officers have been rising, with more than 44,000 assaults recorded on police officers in England and Wales in 2023. The data, obtained from the government's official recorded crime and outcome figures, showed one in four attacks caused injury to an officer.

That was a 9% increase in 2022 and 48% higher than five years ago before the pandemic. Locally, Merseyside Police's figures showed in 2021, there were 1,026 assaults on officers, 1,010 the following year and 1,022 in 2023. These figures were collated across the five metropolitan boroughs on Merseyside - Liverpool, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton and Knowsley.

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The data showed Liverpool was the most likely borough for an incident involving a police constable assault to take place, followed by Wirral. Merseyside Police Superintendent Michael O’Malley told the ECHO: "Our officers have to deal with violence and challenging situations on a daily basis, putting their own lives and personal safety on the line every day in order to keep us all safe.

"However, they should never have to tolerate or accept being assaulted or verbally abused when carrying out their duties. Our officers go to work each day knowing that they might have to step into a situation that most people would run away from in order to keep the people of Merseyside safe.

"I’m sure the vast majority of law-abiding members of the public would agree that assaults on police officers or other emergency workers are totally unacceptable. Not only do they have a massive impact on the officers themselves but also on their families and work colleagues, and as with all acts of violence we will fully investigate and prosecute offenders where appropriate.

"My message to those who carry out violence against police is this: remember, you and your families often need our help so think about that when you’re dealing with officers and the way you behave towards them. If anyone crosses that line, we will not hesitate to take action."

Despite the significant number of incidents involving officers on Merseyside, the statistics show more officers were assaulted in Birmingham than anywhere else. The figures show there were a total of 1,292 assaults on police constables recorded in the midlands city in 2023.

However, when compared to the size of the population, officers in one part of the north east were more at risk than anywhere else. In the last three years, there have been 840 officer assaults in Middlesbrough, the equivalent of 566 attacks for every 100,000 of the population.

That was followed by Stevenage in Hertfordshire where there were the equivalent of 547 assaults per 100,000 population, and then Norwich (468 crimes per 100,000 population). That excludes Westminster, where there is a much higher rate of attacks on Met Police officers when compared to the resident population - 799 assaults for every 100,000 people.

But officers in Westminster are also responsible for policing extremely high numbers of tourists in addition to people who live in the London borough. The area is also often a focus for major protests.

You can see the number and rate of attacks on police constables where you live using our interactive map:

A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesperson added: "The health and wellbeing of our workforce is a top priority for all police chiefs, and we are constantly listening to feedback from those on the ground. Policing is a stressful job, and officers can be exposed to some of life's most challenging situations, which is why they are specially trained to try and reduce the risk to themselves and others.

"Assaults on our frontline workers are absolutely deplorable, and what makes these figures even more unacceptable is that officers come to harm when trying to keep others and the wider community safe. These figures highlight the reality faced by many officers on a daily basis and it is only right that offenders are identified and put before the courts so they can be prosecuted.

"We recognise the challenges of the role and the impact this can have on our workforce which is why we work closely with Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service (NPWS), which provides support and guidance for police forces across England and Wales to improve and build organisational wellbeing, working in conjunction with leading charities and staff associations.

"Managing wellbeing is an open-ended process and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure our workforce remains robust, resilient and asks for support when needed."

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