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‘Grin and bear it?’ The Sussex Police problem that is NOT part of the job



First of all let me say this is not a problem just with Sussex Police officers. This is a nationwide issue.

On the 30th April 2020 a press release was issued by Sussex Police that described an increase in assaults on police officers and other emergency workers during the coronavirus pandemic as ‘sickening’.

The hard statement came from, the now Chief Constable, Jo Shiner.

She said:

It is absolutely sickening that police officers, staff and other emergency workers, putting themselves in harm’s way every day to help others, are being faced with violence and the threat of contamination.

Whilst assaults on police officers is nothing new, the virus had bred a new disgusting way in which certain individuals were unleashing a torrid wave of unparalleled viciousness through coughing and spitting whilst additionally claiming they had COVID-19.

If I get hurt during that I will judge the day on whether I helped someone or not, that’s it.

In-fact the situation had become so bad that in just over one month, assaults on Sussex officers had been recorded at 122 assaults.

This was an increase of 58% when compared to the same one month period in the previous year.

But let’s take a look here at what this actually reflects.

When the coronavirus was not even a thought in anyones mind, assaults on officers for the same period last year in Sussex were around 77. That’s more than two a day!

“the very people who are being attacked are sometimes not even reporting it”

Between 2018 and 2019 there were 1,033 assaults reported on Sussex police officers, a rise of almost 20%. More alarmingly the rise of these assaults which caused an injury on an officer rose almost 30%.

The figures put Sussex 8th highest out of all UK forces for assaults on officers. Of course each force has different numbers of officers but even with the MET put aside for a moment it still puts them in the top quarter of all UK forces.

This is one leader board no-one wants to be at the top of.

But there is a reality here that is even more concerning. These figures are unlikely to be true. The truth is they are most likely much higher because the very people who are being attacked are sometimes not even reporting it.

Why? Why are they not reporting what is happening to them? Why would an officer, who works so hard to protect other people, who tries their hardest to encourage others to report incidents not follow their own advice?

We spoke to two officers from two different areas across Sussex on the assurance that we would not reveal their identities.

The first, Officer A was very experienced with over a decade in the force. The officer almost laughed off the number of times they had been assaulted.

“If I reported every single time I have been assaulted I wouldn’t get any work done. Sometimes it’s necessary as part of the arrest to report it, but other times it would just cause more paperwork when there are more important issues at hand.”

More important issues than being assaulted?

Officer B has only been with the force for six months and in that time has already seen for themselves colleagues get hurt.

“I have been lucky so far and I mean that. I have seen others I am with get really hurt, pick themselves up and limp along to the next job. I don’t want that to happen but I know it will one day. Look, my job satisfaction comes from being there for someone. If I get hurt during that I will judge the day on whether I helped someone or not, that’s it.”

Did they report it and if it happened to you would you report it? I asked.

I got a shrug back.

But this is not something new I have come across. In-fact the force here and up and down the UK is fully aware of two main issues.

ONE, that assaults are getting more frequent and…

TWO, that some officers are not reporting it, treating it as ‘part of the job’ an unacceptable description as confirmed by Assistant Chief Constable Jayne Dando in response to our questions on the rising figures.

She said:

“Working for the police can be a dangerous and unpredictable job and every day our brave officers and staff work hard, often in difficult and challenging circumstances, to keep people safe.

“Being assaulted while they are doing that is completely unacceptable and must never be seen as part of the job.”

The issue of none reporting goes back years and it was only in 2017 when an effort to understand the real situation was made.

ACC Dando continues:

“Since 2017 we have worked with the Police Federation, the Superintendents’ Association and Unison to get a better picture of how many officers are being assaulted as many were just shrugging off minor and sometimes more serious incidents and not reporting them.

“Every day officers go out on the frontline to protect the public and this often means helping them at times when they are going through or find themselves in challenging or difficult situations. While distressing, this does not give anyone the right to physically or verbally assault our officers or staff. If anyone in force is assaulted while on duty the impact can be both physically and psychologically significant. Not only is that individual affected, but also their team and their family.

There are also two very different assaults we need to be aware of. There is the physical assault. The one where bruises and broken bones or faces dripping with spit or blood occur. And then there are the mental assaults.

“it is those who have been assaulted who bear the scars long after a punitive fine has been paid”

I have said in previous articles that police are no different to you and I. They have feelings as well, despite many maintaining such a professional persona you can easily miss any real pain going on inside. But it’s there.

The mental assaults can also be split into two further areas. The first is the mental assaults that are inflicted upon them from the aggressors. The ones that have no right to act in this way ever. The other? I will explain that at the end.

So how do you stop this? How do you reduce a problem that appears to be growing and growing rapidly?

Forces are revealing new innovative ways of dealing with crime, new specialist units are being created and extra resources are being pushed through to stay ahead of criminals.

But whilst this is all exciting and encouraging news, more needs to be done to protect, both mentally and physically, the silent ones. The ones who are being assaulted. Both those who report it and those who don’t.

ACC Dando:

“While assaults on officers and staff do occur, we are committed to doing everything we can to reduce these. However, when they do happen, we will do all that we can to support those affected.

“We believe a significant majority of the public would also support that message and hope that an assault on any emergency worker will be seen as the crime that it is and completely unacceptable.”

It’s all very well increasing fines and punishments, but at the end of the day, it is those who have been assaulted who bear the scars long after a punitive fine has been paid.

I said there was another mental assault earlier. The reason I have left it to the end is because it is a very different type of assault. It is not one that would ever get reported in the same way as any other assault of an officer.

“This is our responsibility now and we need to make a stand”

Why? Because it is an assault that alas is part of the job. No it is not a contradiction of the ACC’s earlier words.

It is an assault that unfortunately happens at incidents such as accidents, where the mind is assaulted with visuals that have no place in anyones memory. Be under no illusion, this is an assault as well, a mental one that no preparation can ready anyone for. Yes it is not in the same class as ones made by vicious nasty assailants, but the repercussions mentally could be just as bad if not far worst.

Sussex Police are able to offer a lot of welfare support to officers and staff, and are in-fact now currently trialing a ‘trauma tracker’ – a very upsetting reality of a job on the front line.

“under no circumstances should any officer ever have to grin and bear it”

But before you think I am writing about doom and gloom take a moment to look back at what the officers we spoke to said. Read the way they spoke about ‘more important issues’ and ‘If I get hurt during that I will judge the day on whether I helped someone or not, that’s it’.

There was no anger. There was no bitterness. There was only a desire to continue doing the job they want to do.

The change needs to come from us, the public. The reality is there is only so much a police force can do to protect its staff. Yes they can have all the training in the world, all the best equipment and the strongest stab vests. But unless society takes a stand and says STOP! then the reality is the figures may continue to increase.

This is our responsibility now and we need to make a stand, because under no circumstances should any officer ever have to ‘grin and bear it’.


BREAKING NEWS: Coronavirus cases jump 200% in one week across Crawley



On Monday 14th Sept the new “rule of six” comes into force across England with news breaking today that children under 12 will not be exempt from it.

The new rules mean people are limited to meeting in groups no larger than six people both indoors and outdoors.

The rule ‘could’ potentially be coming slightly too late as new figures for Crawley reveal a 200% jump in recorded cases in just one week.

People need to realise the harm it can do you without putting you directly in hospital

Data from the UK public health bodies shows that in last week (2nd – 8th Sept) there were 15 NEW cases reported in Crawley. This number does not seem a lot but when compared to the week(s) before it shows a dramatic jump.

In only the previous week there were only 5 new cases reported, with 4 separate days reporting no cases at all.

But in the past week this figure jumped with 8 reported in one day alone.

So far the worst single day for reported cases in Crawley was back on the 28th April when 19 cases were reported in a day.

To date, since recording began there have been 502 cases, with 77 of these resulting in death.

As more parts of the UK are also having to deal with stricter lock down restrictions Crawley remains below the national average of cases per 100,000 at 13. The national average is currently 18.

The towns neighbour, Horsham, saw an even greater rise of 360% with 23 cases reported between 2-8 Sept.

Across the UK an additional 3.497 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, an increase of 36% on the same day a week ago, taking the total to 365,174.

A local doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said her and her colleagues were very worried about how too many people were downplaying the risk of infection.

“I hear every day some people talking about how the number of people in hospital through Covid are so low so we shouldn’t worry about the number of cases increasing – but we should. People need to realise the harm it can do you without putting you directly in hospital.”

But questions on how the new rules will be enforced are still not clear with new statements released from the Police that talk about ‘engaging, encouraging and explaining’ before even considering taking any action.

A source close to Sussex Police has told Crawley News 24 that there is both confusion and dismay within the ranks about who and how officers are going to contend with issues of larger groups than allowed meeting up, while juggling the increase of daily issues that are returning since the full lockdown.

Another source said they were awaiting a full outline of what powers the police really will have on Monday (14th Sept) before officers would be given full guidance on what they should do.

Sussex Police told Crawley News 24:

“As we start to see a rise in infections it is vitally important that we all follow the regulations and restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Everyone has a role to play limiting the outbreak by following the regulations, including those about gatherings which will be limited to six people both indoors and outside when the new legislation comes into force on Monday 14 September.

People need to take personal responsibility for their actions, in particular during this heath emergency, and this includes adhering to the latest government guidance.

Sussex Police will continue its approach of engaging, encouraging and explaining the current regulations and only taking enforcement action when necessary. “

Only 1 week after schools reopen, a couple of weeks after a house party alarmed residents in the town, (and Crawley Council confirming they were investigating the event), and new rules coming into force, all eyes will now be set to see just how well the town responds to the new measures and whether the rise is just a ‘blip’ or if it is a sign of a returning rise.

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