'Horrific' 2.4 million assaults on officers a year

05 February 2017

New figures released today reveal the horrific extent and frequency of assaults* on police officers.

Estimations based on our welfare survey data suggest that there were potentially more than two million (2,113,602) unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12 month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon during the same period.

This means:

  • there were a total of 2,416,445 attacks
  • there were 40,009 injuries due to violence
  • an assault happens every four minutes.

To date, it has been difficult to determine the actual number of police officers assaulted every year; much of this being down to what data has been used, taking into consideration inconsistencies and a variety of recording processes. Incidents are also often under-reported, further contributing to an incomplete national picture on what is a growing concern.  Up until now, there has been an estimated 23,000 police officers assaulted every year but these new figures present the stark reality of the job and what officers have to deal with.

Steve White, PFEW Chair, said: "We always knew that 23,000, whilst bad enough, was not the true picture but 2.4 million is beyond anyone’s expectations and totally unacceptable. Officers are out there doing a job in extremely difficult circumstances - this brings a whole new dimension to the very real dangers they are facing.

"Without question, an assault of any kind should never be considered ‘part of the job’. First and foremost, our officers should be afforded the support they need and deserve and this means that they are treated the same way as any other victim of crime and that those who attack police officers are not dealt with lightly.

"In addition, Government needs to take action on these figures.  Assaults on police officers and their colleagues in the emergency services is an utter disgrace and should not be tolerated."

We lobbied the Home Office last year on the issue of not having a true picture of the number of police assaults per year, and the Home Office are now working with us to verify and publish data on this going forward.  In the meantime, today’s findings present the clearest picture yet and will hopefully force the issue as a matter of urgency.

The statistics come from analysis of last year's Officer Demand, Capacity, and Welfare Survey, completed by approximately 17,000 officers.

Breakdown of national data

*'Assaults' include offenders struggling to get free, wrestling, hitting, kicking or spitting at officers