I am sure that most of our members are well aware of the recent allegations made against senior Metropolitan Police officers, both serving and retired, regarding the “Stasi” type raids made by their officers on the homes of Field Marshall the Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and Mr Harvey Proctor; amongst others. These raids were in respect of allegations made by Mr Carl Beech; the VIP child sex abuse fantasist known as “Nick.” He is currently serving eighteen years in jail having been convicted of twelve counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.
Despite some of these officers being exonerated as a result of an independent inquiry, new allegations regarding the unlawful obtaining of search warrants are to be investigated and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is ordering a review of the new evidence.
It is therefore heartening, yet as the same time distressing, to read that after the brutal murder of PC Andrew Harper, killed whilst investigating the theft of a quad bike, the savage machete attack on PC Stuart Outten and other similar incidents against ordinary police officers, two Chief Constables have finally decided to afford greater protection to their “front line” officers.
The Chief Constables of Northamptonshire and Durham have stated that all front line officers who want to carry a Taser on duty will get one. Northamptonshire’s Chief Constable, Nick Adderley, stated that “…the risks his officers face had risen dramatically.”
Jo Farrell, the Chief Constable of Durham, endorsed this and said; “Sadly there are situations in which police officers need to take immediate action to subdue violent suspects to protect the public.”
As he was being attacked by an assailant armed with a machete, PC Outten, although severely injured, managed to Taser the suspect and by doing so probably saved his own life. His attacker has been charged with attempted murder.
As shocking and distressing as these recent attacks upon officers are, they are no longer a rarity. The crime epidemic sweeping the United Kingdom has seen the number of attacks on officers trying to arrest offenders increase dramatically. In 2018 there were 10,399 assaults on officers that caused injuries – this is a 32% increase from 7,903 recorded in 2015-16. The Office of National Statistics recorded a further 20,578 reported assaults without injury.
As the spiral of violence – particularly the use of knives to murder or injure members of the public and police officers – continues seemingly unchecked, what sentences are available to the Courts to deter criminals from assaulting police officers?
The Police Act, 1996 s.89 makes it an offence to assault a police officer in the execution of his duty and the Sentencing Council of England and Wales has determined a maximum level 5 fine or twenty-six weeks custody. Needless to say, these sentences are subject to numerous caveats regarding the age of offender, seriousness of the assault, previous convictions, income etc. As a supposed deterrent this is woefully inadequate.
As an example of how lenient our Courts are, a twenty-two year old man who spat blood at a police officer in the UK was only handed a community order.
John Apter, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said, “There has got to be a deterrent. The overwhelming feeling from very many police officers is that the wider criminal justice system doesn’t rate assaults on officers with sufficient gravitas.”
Three months ago, new legislation came into effect – The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act which made assaults on officers punishable with jail terms of up to twelve months. Contrast that with the United States of America, where spitting at a police officer carries a sentence of ten to fifteen years!
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that he will increase the number of police offers by 20,000 (there has been a reduction in police numbers over the last 10 years of 22,000).
He is to be commended for his concern regarding the appalling rise in violent crime on the once safe streets of Britain. When these officers are eventually recruited and trained and a visible presence is once again on the streets of this country, it will certainly be a help towards restoring public safety and confidence.
Sadly, an increase in police numbers will not on its own solve the unchecked crime epidemic experienced across our towns, cities and in rural areas.
The mind-set and perception (if they perceive anything) amongst many of today’s violent criminals is that they can commit any crime they want completely unchecked and with the use of gratuitous violence. They have no conscience and are not even concerned about the prison term as the main thing that they do know is that it is highly unlikely that they will be apprehended. Indeed, they have no respect for the police at all (which has been graphically highlighted in this Club Comment); they will assault officers to avoid arrest.
Even if apprehended, their likelihood of receiving a custodial sentence is remote. If fined, fines remain unpaid and they are not brought back before the courts due to manpower shortages in attempting to locate them. In effect, as usual, in their mind, they have got away with their crimes. This only serves to encourage reoffending.
For many, many years, some sectors of society, in the form of the courts, the Howard League for Penal Reform and Human Rights charities such as Amnesty, have all managed to promote the, “softly, softly”, “use kid gloves” approach to the perpetrators of crime.
Painfully, for the majority of law-abiding members of society, this approach has not worked and this is graphically illustrated by the daily violence now taking place in our streets.
For Boris Johnson to turn the tide of leftist social policy towards criminals, it requires a complete change of attitude by our Courts; particularly towards the sentencing for violent crime. Yes, if we have to build new maximum security prisons to house these dangerous individuals who have to be removed from the streets to protect their fellow subjects, then so be it.
There will, of course, be cries of where does the money come from to build these new prisons?
Perhaps the government, now led by a new dynamic Prime Minister, will utilise some of the £14.5 billion of taxpayer’s money that is so shamefully handed out in the form of International Development Aid to wealthy countries such as India and China and others with despotic rulers who pocket the money for themselves.
Surely, allowing the Queen’s subjects to walk down the streets of this country without fear of being stabbed or assaulted is a mandatory obligation? Why must the majority of society be subjected to wanton violence?
Some members of society may even start taking the law into their own hands to more proactively defend themselves. Dare I suggest that we may eventually encounter this sort of rule by the mob.
This may seem like overstating the case but when Amnesty has stated that the public “…should resist the drum-beat of calls for all police to carry Tasers,” it indicates the up-hill battle we are facing.
Perhaps members of Amnesty would like to patrol unarmed in some of the most violent areas of the country and adopt a softly, softly approach to a violent drug-fuelled individual wielding a machete or shotgun?
The lawlessness across our land has not just occurred. Over the last forty years, a general malaise, financial cut-backs, apathy, rapid decline in normal standards of conduct in a civilized society, leftist ideology in our courts, a breakdown of parental control, lower standards of education amongst the socially deprived – we still have sixteen-year-olds leaving school unable to read, write or do multiplication. There are 8 million adults (18 plus) in the UK who are functionally illiterate and therefore unable to obtain well-paid work.
Unless robust action is taken now by this Government, violence on our streets will escalate. If the police are unable to contain the daily stabbings and murders then society has allowed the criminals to rule the streets.
The Courts, and the government must have a completely different mind-set – otherwise, eventually the country will reflect saying “How DID WE EVER LET IT GET TO THIS??”