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Spitting, gouging, broken bones...shocking rise in attacks on Norfolk’s police officers

PUBLISHED: 16:29 05 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:43 06 August 2017

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

Norfolk Constabulary.

More than one police officer is attacked on the streets of Norfolk every single day, shocking new figures have revealed.

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

Norfolk’s thin blue line is ever decreasing, with police officer numbers falling from a high of 1,650 almost 10 years ago to the 1,460 currently protecting the county.

But while officer numbers are reducing, the threat faced by policemen and women is greater than ever - as the latest police statistics show.

In the past year more than 430 Norfolk police officers have been assaulted in the line of duty.

Between June 1 2016 and November 30 2016, there were 195 police officer assaults in the county while in the past six months, there have been a staggering 237 attacks.

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

Recent figures for the neighbouring Suffolk force show there have been 469 assault on police offences recorded over the past three years.

The statistics have prompted an urgent call from police chiefs for people to show some respect to those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us.

Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable, said: “Officers routinely face danger. This is the nature of police work and we accept that, doing the job we do, there will be occasions when officers suffer injuries.

“However, in recent years there has been a noticeable decline in public attitude towards policing, with some in society feeling it is acceptable to be aggressive, abusive and violent towards police officers when they are simply trying to carry out their duties.”

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

Mr Bailey said he was concerned about the number of assaults on police officers.

According to national police federation figures, 23,000 officers report an assault every year in England and Wales - more than 60 a day.

Norfolk’s top police officer said: “That’s a concerning statistic - and equally upsetting because behind every number is a person, someone who has been assaulted and on occasions injured for simply doing their job.

“That’s not right. I’m not asking for special treatment – just for people to show respect to those who work to protect you and your loved ones from the threat of crime.”

PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.PC Gilder was carrying out public order patrols in King’s Lynn town centre last summer when he was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

He added: “It is vital officers know they will be supported – having to put up with violent behaviour is not ‘just part of the job’.”

Today some of those working on the frontline have spoken out about the impact being attacked has had.

PC Ollie Gilder was knocked unconscious in an unprovoked attack in King’s Lynn’s Market Place which was caught on CCTV.

The incident happened after police were called following reports of a fight outside a bar last summer.

A/Sgt Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11 year service. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.A/Sgt Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11 year service. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

While PC Gilder spoke to door staff, a man threw a pint of beer over them before running off as the officer dealt with another man.

He said: “It was at this point I heard a member of door staff shout to me ‘watch out’, so I turned around only to be punched by the man who had thrown the beer earlier.

“It knocked me unconscious momentarily. I remember being on the floor and trying to call for assistance on my radio amongst a melee. I managed to handcuff the suspect before other officers arrived to assist.”

PC Gilder suffered bruising and a swollen jaw and went to hospital for scans to make sure nothing had been fractured or broken.

A/Sgt Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11 year service. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.A/Sgt Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11 year service. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

He added: “Six months earlier while on duty I was pushed by man and fell on the floor hitting my head on the concrete. I ended up on a spinal board, again in hospital for scans.

“I like helping people and therefore enjoy my job, but these incidents did make me question whether this was the right career for me.”

Acting Sergeant Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11-year service.

He has been spat in the face, had nails dug into his arm, been punched and kicked and gouged in the eye.

A/Sgt Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11 year service. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.A/Sgt Tony Hogan joined the police force in January 2006 and has been the victim of assault 14 times during his 11 year service. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary.

In the most serious incident, A/Sgt Hogan suffered a broken arm as he attempted to arrest a man in Great Yarmouth who was wanted in connection with a separate assault. A/Sgt Hogan said: “I heard it snap and my arm just gave way.

“Assaults tend to happen when making arrests or searching people – situations where people can become antagonistic.

“People may not like the police but the point I would make is that when things go wrong – we are the people you call.”

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