A police officer is hurt every week in the line of duty in Morecambe and Lancaster as bosses warn this could be the last straw for an already
Shocking new figures – released under the Freedom of Information Act – show hundreds of Lancashire’s frontline officers are injured whilst at work every year.
Since 2012, 2,500 injuries have been sustained by the county’s officers with 146 cases in the Morecambe district.
Now police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has warned further injuries could result in a fall in the numbers of police on the streets.
He said: “Officers often go above and beyond and that should be recognised, but what also needs to be born in mind is when an officer is injured this can sometimes take them off duty for a period of time and reducing cover.
“If we have no resilience in place in terms of officer numbers then areas could go without a policing presence, which is clearly something we don’t want to see.”
Instances range from broken bones, being kicked or punched in the testicles, stabbing and other puncture wounds.
Inspector Kirstie Banks-Lyon, of Morecambe Police, said one officer was off work for four months after his eyes were nearly gauged out.
The Morecambe officer was called to a domestic incident in February this year but upon trying to help he was kicked in the head, suffered a broken ankle and had one eye nearly gauged out.
Bernard McCrystal was charged with grievous bodily harm to a police officer and was sentenced to 28 months in prison on March 31.
Another Morecambe officer was off work for two months over the summer after being assaulted when trying to restrain someone in custody.
Insp Banks-Lyon said: “Not every injury on duty will be as a result of physical assault.
“As funding cuts continue there will be a greater risk to frontline officers sustaining injuries in course of duty which will result in absence from work.
“It is an obvious risky profession, we are putting ourselves in confrontational situations.
“Officers come into the job to protect people’s lives and this is what can happen, it is disconcerting.”
Across the county, the number of recorded injuries rose to 746 last year, having fallen to 691 in the previous 12 months.
It backs up concerns that assaults on police are becoming more common, despite sharp reductions in the number of officers working in Lancashire.
Already, since 2010, Lancashire Police has lost £63m from its budget and is preparing for a further £43m to go over the next five years.
When next month’s spending review comes out, setting out how the country will save £20bn by 2020, there are fears police budgets could be slashed by as much as 40 per cent.
In 2010 there were 3611 police officers in Lancashire, 2999 in 2015 and by 2020 there are set to be 1699 officers.
Rachel Baines, chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, said: “One assault on police is too many. We are not there as a punch-bag, that goes without saying.”
The figures do not make clear whether injuries were accidental or the result of an assault.
Home Office data shows Lancashire police officers reported being assaulted 212 times last year.
Crime figures for the year included 264 assaults without injury on a constable, although the true figure could be double that.
There was no data for more serious assaults.
Ms Baines said: “Not all police assaults would necessarily be recorded as a crime.
“We are trying to show the true story and doing some work with the force around this.”
She said it was not always easy to distinguish between an accident in the workplace and an assault, while multiple assaults as part of a larger disturbance may not be individually recorded.
The Federation’s own research suggests only half of assaults on police officers are recorded as a crime.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “These figures show the types of dangers police face every day across Lancashire.
“Officers are faced with risks which can involve putting their body in harm’s way to protect the public.
“We accept those risks, often regardless of the potential injuries officers could suffer.”