Attacking a police officer trying to do their job is appalling behaviour and should not be tolerated.

That is the message from the assistant chief constable of Hampshire Constabulary following latest government figures which show a rise in assaults on county officers. 

Speaking exclusively to The Gazette, assistant chief constable Ben Snuggs said: “Attacking a police officer either verbally or physically when we are trying to do a job is appalling behaviour and will not be tolerated.” 

Statistics released this week show 1,241 police constables in Hampshire were assaulted in the year 2019/20 compared to 1,176 in 2018/19.  

And at least 380 of these assaults left officers with an injury of some sort.  

He added: “Assaults should never be seen as just part of the job.   

“Police will often come into contact with people who are sometimes going through the worst experience of their lives, but this doesn’t give people the right to be verbally or physically abusive towards our officers and staff. 

“An attack on one of our officers or staff is an attack on all of us. If someone is hurt while on duty, the impact is huge.  

“The individual is affected, their team, their family and ultimately the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are affected because that person may not be able to immediately return to duty.

He continued: “It is worth remembering that police officers who patrol our local communities and respond to calls for help do so with the primary objective of keeping people safe. One attack on a police officer, is one too many. 

“People, who deliberately assault, spit or cough on police officers, and other emergency workers, will continue to be dealt with swiftly and rigorously and I am greatly encouraged that this approach is also being taken across the wider criminal justice system. 

“Today, we are committing to doing everything we can to support members of the police family if they are assaulted. We are, of course, working to do everything possible to reduce these sort of incidents happening, but we must ensure we look after our people if the worst happens.” 

On Wednesday, a man who spat at a police officer in Basingstoke town centre was given a suspended prison sentence. 

Andrew Joseph Pepper of Attwood Close admitted to assaulting PC Daniel Tompkins in Winchester Street last Saturday (August 1). 

The 45-year-old was given an eight-week prison sentence which has been suspended for 12 months.