Police chiefs call urgent talks on officer safety

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption PC Andrew Harper was married just four weeks before he was killed while on duty

A top police chief has urged the most senior officers in England, Scotland and Wales to come together to find ways to make frontline policing safer.

Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), called an urgent meeting for all chief constables to discuss officer safety.

“If we can’t protect our people, how can we protect the public?” he said.

It comes after recent violent attacks on officers and the death of PC Andrew Harper while investigating a burglary.

The summit, which will be held in early September, will be the first time the chief constables have ever come together outside of their usual quarterly meetings.

The top officers will share lessons from the recent attacks on their frontline officers as part of a discussion “to see if there is anything more we can do to tangibly improve their safety”, Mr Hewitt said.

The Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has also been asked to give its input.

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Image copyright PA Media
Image caption All frontline officers in one force have been offered Tasers after violence against emergency services

Although Mr Hewitt said it was important not to have “knee-jerk” reactions to events, he said: “Levels of violence are an increasing concern across the country and attacks on our officers have gone up.”

“It is the responsibility of each chief constable to do all they can to keep their officers as safe as possible,” he added.

Earlier this week, Northamptonshire Police announced it would be the first force in the country to arm all of its frontline officers with Tasers.

Days later it was joined by a second force, Durham Constabulary, which said every frontline officer who wanted one would undergo training to use the stun guns.

Some studies have linked the increased use or presence of Tasers with an increase in hostility between police and the public.

Ch Con Giles York – vice chair of the NPCC – told BBC Breakfast: “There is always a balance to be struck around how we equip our officers and still maintain that British piece of policing that is policing by consent.”

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Earlier this month, a police officer was stabbed in Leyton, east London, and two officers in Merseyside were attacked in separate incidents.

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