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NEWS EXTRA: 'The Safety Of Police Officers In Hampshire Is At Risk'

In this special report, we take a look at some of the threats facing police officers in Hampshire, as they try and go about their daily work.

This report includes an account from a senior official within policing in Hampshire, who's told us that officers need to be treated with 'greater respect.'

In a special interview, John Apter from the county's Police Federation has been shedding light on the violence staff suffer when on the beat.

He's revealed he knows of at least nine local officers who were assaulted or abused last weekend alone - some were kicked, punched and spat at.

He says the figures often rise during the week:

"Police officers seem to be fair game for some - they're like 'society's punchbags'.

"I feel so strongly that the public hear about the reality of policing - it's vitally important.

"Some officers have been kicked, bitten, punched, spat at. We've had one officer who was attacked and the offender was charged with GBH - that's a serious offence.

"Over recent months we've had officers who've been seriously assaulted. It's only by good luck - and in one case, a taser - that an officer wasn't killed."

John says there a number of methods and things they've had to bring in to keep officers safe - but sometimes those aren't enough:

"We've got spit guards, which give an element of protection for those vile individuals that spit at officers, as well as tasers, which are effective and are being rolled out to more and more officers.

"Our safety training is also being improved."

In response, Hampshire Police have told us they're committed to tackling violence against officers - and they treat every case seriously.

A spokesman for the force says 'an attack on one, is an attack on all'. The force's full statement is below:

HAMPSHIRE POLICE STATEMENT

Funding

The Chief Constable, Olivia Pinkney, has always been clear about the difficult financial position Hampshire is in due to the lack of a fair national funding formula. We agree that the force is £47.7m short of where it should be, and the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner are campaigning for fairer national funding.
 
Officer assaults
 
We are committed to officer safety and ensuring officers, and staff, are given the support they need. This is emphasised by Hampshire’s introduction of the Seven Point Plan.

This plan was launched in November 2016. At the time, a spokesperson for the force said:

"An attack on one, is an attack on all.

"That’s the view of senior leaders and partners at Hampshire Constabulary when it comes to assaults on officers and staff.

"The force is the first in the country to have developed its own plan for ensuring these incidents are investigated properly and staff and officers are fully supported in this process. This is part of the force’s wider commitment to looking after its people to ensure they can be at their best looking after the public.
The seven-point plan, which came as a result of the issue being raised by Hampshire Police Federation Chairman John Apter, has been formally adopted by the force and updated to include non-warranted staff members, and verbal abuse as well as physical assaul and hate crime. 

"The plan is now being adopted by other forces across the country, including the Metropolitan police who have called it Operation Hampshire, and has been picked up internationally."

Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said:

"Assaults should never been seen as ‘just part of the job’. Officers and staff 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 ever verbally or physically abuse our people.

“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 is affected, their family is affected 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.

“Today, we are committing to doing everything we can to support members of the police family if they are assaulted. We of course are 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.”

We also wanted to find out what you think.

We went out onto the streets of Basingstoke to ask members of the public whether they think we need more police officers - and whether they feel they're properly protected at the moment.

We also asked them if they feel the work of police officers is taken for granted.

Here's what these people had to say:

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