Call for support from courts after ‘shocking’ police officer attack in city
- Credit: Norfolk Constabulary.
Courts need to hand out more deterrent sentences to those who attack emergency workers while out serving and protecting their communities.
That is the message from Andy Symonds, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation, which represents officers in the county, after Shannon Lovelock was jailed for four years following a vicious attack on a police inspector and her colleagues while on patrol in Norwich city centre.
Inspector Laura Symonds suffered a broken nose and fractured eye socket and has permanent damage to her vision, following the attack in King Street, Norwich, in March last year during which colleagues, including Sergeant Graham White, were also attacked and injured.
Lovelock was jailed on Friday (September 11) after having admitted causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent to Insp Symonds, an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) to Sgt White and assault of an emergency officer in relation to biting another officer in the same incident.
Despite the injuries she suffered, Insp Symonds, now local policing commander for Diss, has vowed to “continue running towards the danger”.
Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Symonds said: “The truly shocking images of my colleague’s horrific injuries show the dangers officers face.
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“A totally unprovoked attack which ended with serious injuries being inflicted. Sadly this has become an all too regular occurrence with officers being assaulted and left with injuries that cause them pain and issues long after the incident.
“I’m seeing an increasing number of officers who unfortunately are having to be placed on restricted duties for long periods of time or even retired due to the injuries they’ve sustained from being attacked. These are highly officers who can no longer be on the frontline of serving the community. It impacts us all.
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“Here in Norfolk we saw 659 officers assaulted in 2019/20 compared to 582 in 2018/19. Of the 659 assaults 127 officers were left with an injury.
“Nationally more than 30,000 officers were attacked an increase of 3per cent on 2018/19.”
Mr Symonds has been speaking out after having said he felt “let down” following the sentencing of 19-year-old Calvin Garwe who was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years despite having knocked out an officer he punched in Norwich in July before bragging about it to officers.
He said: “At what point do we start seeing the support from the courts when they hand down the sentences to those who attack my colleagues. At the moment we do not see consistent deterrent sentences handed down. This has to change. I can guarantee that if a judge or magistrate were assaulted while at work the offender would be given an immediate custodial sentence.
“Officers are human beings that happen to wear a uniform and work in a profession they see as a vocation rather than a job. They are brave people who put themselves in harms way to protect the community they serve. Even after being viciously attacked Insp Symonds would continue to run towards danger to deal with whatever confronted her. This is the same bravery, passion and commitment shown by all officers.
“But we must not underestimate the impact of these assaults both mentally and physically. They take their toll during a long career which will inevitably mean officers are on the end of assaults many times.”
Before sentencing Lovelock Judge Anthony Bate said officers “rightly expect and are entitled to the protection of these courts”.
Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Lorne Green, who has in recent days called for sentences for those convicted of assaulting emergency workers, reacted to the sentencing of Lovelock on social media, tweeting the officer was a “Norfolk hero” but stating that while the assailant gets four years she “gets a life sentence”.
He said: “The whole thing is outrageous. It’s a grave offence to challenge law and order in this way. It’s a violation of not only the individual but all of us. I’ve been banging on about this - sentencing should be commensurate with the gravity of the offence.”
The maximum jail term for those who assault emergency workers has been increased from six months to a year in England and Wales. Plans to double the penalty are currently being considered but Mr Green said he wants to see offenders get five years.