Twelve transport police officers assaulted every week
More than 12 police officers a week are being attacked monitoring Britain’s transport networks, figures show.
There were 1,939 reported assaults against British Transport Police (BTP) officers in the three years to October 2018, resulting in more than 230 injuries, Freedom of Information requests have shown.
This included 17 assaults at Manchester Victoria station, where a BTP officer was stabbed in the shoulder on New Year’s Eve. He has since been released from hospital.
Leeds station in West Yorkshire had the greatest number of assaults, with 66 incidents between 2015 and 2018.
London Victoria came second, with 60, closely followed by Manchester Piccadilly with 56 attacks in the last three years, the force said.
A large number of assaults were also reported at other stations in the capital, with 48 at Stratford in east London, 44 at St Pancras International, and Euston, Waterloo and Liverpool Street stations saw 43, 42, and 39 incidents respectively.
Glasgow Central station saw the most assaults of any station outside England with 38.
Overall, assaults on BTP officers were recorded at more than 500 locations, including level crossings, hospitals and in custody, with 226 incidents of actual bodily harm, and a further 13 more serious grievous bodily harm offences.
One BTP officer who was attacked on duty told the Press Association he quickly returned to work because his absence cut his team’s manpower by a third.
Pc Adam Heslop was punched in the face when responding to a routine call in Lancaster in March 2017.
He said: “The longer I was away, the longer the cases would build up.
“I’m going to have to investigate them anyway, I may as well do them now.
“It’s the first time in nine years of policing that somebody had succeeded in punching me. I didn’t expect it at all and I felt a bit useless.”
His attacker was charged with actual bodily harm, given a curfew and ordered to pay £85, but the officer said he does not think the sentence discourages offending.
“I know better than to expect justice from the courts when it comes to police assaults,” he said.
“She thought nothing of assaulting me and wasn’t really inconvenienced by the court’s sentencing.”
A police union condemned the “senseless” violence against officers on the transport network.
Nigel Goodband, chairman of the British Transport Police Federation, said: “Violence against police officers is shocking and shameful, and being assaulted on duty is not simply ‘part of the job’.
“It is wholly unacceptable that people who serve to protect their communities should face senseless violence while doing so.
“The minority who commit these offences must be made to face the consequences of their actions.”
British Transport Police called the figures a “shocking revelation”.
Superintendent Darren Malpas said: “Attacks on officers will not be tolerated and every assault is one too many.
“These figures are a shocking reflection of the risks officers face while trying to keep others safe.
“Thankfully we police a CCTV-rich environment, and our officers are equipped with body-worn cameras, which means we have a variety of evidence available to bring offenders before the courts.”