The number of police officers injured by guns and other firearms has almost doubled year-on-year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Between April 2020 and March 2021, 23 on-duty police officers were injured by firearms.
It’s the highest number of police-recorded crimes of this nature in 13 years since 2007/08, which involved 26 incidents, and a leap from 12 in 2019/20.
The Blue Lamp Foundation, which was set up by the late PC David Rathband, who was shot and blinded in Northumbria by ex-prisoner Raoul Moat in 2010, has condemned the violence against officers.
Among the 23 injuries, one was fatal, another was classed as serious, while a further 21 caused slight injury.
A serious injury is one which requires a stay in hospital or involves fractures, concussion, severe general shock, penetration by a bullet or multiple shot wounds.
It’s the first time a firearm has caused a fatal injury in eight years, when two took place in 2012/13.
Injuries caused by tear gas, stun guns and pepper spray are counted alongside firearms, shotguns and imitation firearms, although air weapons are not included. No breakdown is provided on the type of weapon used to injure the officers.
The findings come following a memorial service held last week (29 November) for Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu Ratana who was shot on 25 September 25, 2020, in Croydon Custody Centre, South London.
He is the police officer recorded in the statistics as being fatally injured by a firearm.
‘He would be horrified’
A spokeswoman for the Blue Lamp Foundation said PC Rathband, who died in 2012, would feel appalled at the figures.
She said: “He knew first-hand what it was like to be injured on duty as the result of a firearm incident and the injuries he sustained resulted in him taking his own life 18 months later.
“If he was here today, he would be horrified to hear that such incidents are on the rise and that more serving officers and their families are having to deal with the consequences.
“We welcome any measures which help to deter criminals, prevent the rise in firearms incidents and that protect police officers and other emergency services personnel as they go about their duty serving the public.”
A coroner ruled in 2014 that both his injuries and the breakdown of his marriage had contributed to PC Rathband’s suicide.
‘Full force of the law’
A Government spokeswoman said: “Anyone who commits assaults against our brave police officers deserves to face the full force of the law, which is why we are doubling the maximum sentence for those who assault emergency workers.
“Our recent announcement of Harper’s Law reflects the seriousness with which we take all offences against police officers and all other emergency workers.
“Those who commit these disgraceful acts must face punishment, and under our proposed changes anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime will face a mandatory life sentence.”
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