Almost 500 Norfolk police officers and staff assaulted while on duty in last five years

PUBLISHED: 15:07 20 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:09 20 January 2014

The area on Prince of Wales Road where a police officer suffered a broken leg in an incident.

The area on Prince of Wales Road where a police officer suffered a broken leg in an incident. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

The serious injuries sustained by a police officer who was responding to an incident in Norwich’s clubland at the weekend should serve as a reminder to the public of the dangers officers regularly face, police chiefs have today insisted.

The comments from Stephen Bett, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), come as latest figures reveal that almost 500 police officers and staff have been assaulted while on duty over the past five years.

Mr Bett has vowed to visit the victim of the latest attack - a 42-year-old Norwich response officer - in hospital where he is recovering from a broken leg and back injuries sustained in an alleged assault on Prince of Wales Road in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The officer was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken tibia during the incident which happened outside Beeline Taxi’s and Ossi’s takeaway shortly after 1am.

Man charged after police officer suffers broken leg in Prince of Wales Road assault in Norwich

The PC had been responding to reports of alleged assaults at a nightclub when the incident happened and attended with a colleague, a female Sergeant who was also injured.

Mr Bett said: “I think it shows what happens. They do put themselves into situations where very aggressive people are going to have a go at them. Unfortunately in some cases they get injured as in this case.

“I intend to go and see the officer but am just waiting to find out what the right time is. I think the break was quite a nasty one. I wish him a speedy recovery and I think its time to acknowledge just what the police do - they do face serious danger at times and it’s not to be taken for granted by the public.”

Mr Bett’s sentiments were echoed by Paul Ridgway, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers in the county, who said: “The thoughts of the federation are with him and his family at this difficult time. We’re supporting him and his family and are in regular contact with him. It just shows the issues that police officers have to deal with or the threats of the issues officers have to deal with. It’s not an everyday occurrence, however the threat is always there.”

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request show that between 2008 and 2013 there were 492 assaults recorded on officers and staff at Norfolk police with 137 recorded between March 31 2008 and April 1 2009, 118 between the same period in 2009/10, 81 between march 31 2010 and April 1 2011, 69 between 2011 and 2012 and 87 in 2012/13.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nick Dean has insisted work to drive-down alcohol-fuelled crime in Norwich will continue following the latest attack which also saw another officer, a female police sergeant, suffer slight head injuries although she was able to continue working after being treated by paramedics.

Temp Asst Chf Con Dean said: “We cannot underestimate what any officer might face on any day. Policing, by its very nature, is spontaneous and unpredictable although fortunately serious injury to officers is rare.”

He added: “Tackling violent crime remains a priority for the force and we’ve worked hard with venues and partner agencies to address issues recognised as a key factor in disorder, including the late-night availability of alcohol.

“The vast majority of people who come for a night out in Norwich, which can be between 15,000 and 20,000 every weekend, will have a safe night with only a small percentage becoming victims of crime.

“Scenes of disorder are not unique to Norwich, they happen in towns and cities across the country. The challenge is how to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence and here in Norfolk we’ve taken a number of measures to improve safety and we continue to work with partners to enhance this further.”

Police offer strong support to the night time economy with effectively more than 20 officers policing one road in the city centre and high profile operations dubbed ‘Impact nights’ are held throughout the year. These operations feature in excess of 70 officers clamping down on alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour and crime.

Officers are also involved in Best Bar None, the Norwich Licensing Forum, Door Supervisors Forum and also support partner/volunteer agencies which operate in the night time economy including the SOS Bus, NHS First Responders and Norfolk Street Partnership.

Work also continues on applications for EMROs (Early Morning Restriction Orders) in the city centre in a bid to address the late-night availability of alcohol and more recently nightclubs were supplied with breathalysers to test how sober clubbers were before going into bars and clubs.

T/ACC Dean added: “While we hold enhanced policing operations throughout the year our approach to violence and disorder in the night time economy remains the same all-year round – violence and alcohol fuelled disorder will not be tolerated.”

Police have charged Mohammed Labead, 19, of Kinghorn Road, Norwich, with three counts of assault and one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent.

He has been released on bail with conditions not to enter Prince of Wales Road as well as a night time curfew, to appear before Norwich Magistrates Court on Friday February 21.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Norwich CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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