We will not tolerate abuse of our officers, warns North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable
Offenders who subject North Yorkshire's police officers and staff to sickening abuse are being told their behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Lisa Winward will now submit a written witness statement in court cases where police have been targeted because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
The statement, included in case files put before the courts, emphasises the impact of these incidents on police officers, staff and volunteers.
It highlights the damaging effect on victims and their families, and explains that such abuse could even discourage people from diverse backgrounds from applying to join the service.
One such statement reads: “I am the Chief Constable for North Yorkshire Police and have responsibility for the delivery of policing activity across the county.
"In order to execute my duty I must rely upon the actions of a large number of police officers and police staff members who deal with difficult and challenging incidents on a day to day basis. They do so in order to protect the vulnerable, keep communities safe, respond to calls, and to prevent and detect crime.
“In providing this statement I hope that it will assist in my duty to protect the members of the organisation that protect the public.
“All too often police officers and staff are subjected to abuse because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
"I feel strongly that it is never acceptable for abuse of this type towards police officers and staff should be tolerated and it should not be simply considered as ‘part of the job’.
“While it is clear that the nature of policing requires members of the organisation to deal with volatile and hostile situations, abuse of this nature is serious and unacceptable.
"The sentencing guidelines reflect this fact and highlight that racially and religiously public order offences against anyone is an aggravating feature.
“It is imperative that we strive to have a workforce that is representative of the diverse communities we serve.
"Any tolerance of police officers and staff facing abuse because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability will have a significant impact on their psychological wellbeing and morale. This could also discourage potential recruits from diverse backgrounds to join the service, affecting our ability to serve its communities.
“Most importantly it should be remembered that police officers and staff of all backgrounds are people, they are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
"When they suffer sickening abuse they become victims just like any other, but victims who have been subject of this type of abuse while trying to serve and protect others from being victimised.”
Since November 2018, the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable have provided 174 support statements for criminal cases where North Yorkshire Police officers, staff or volunteers have been assaulted in the course of their duties.
North Yorkshire Police has also introduced a new plan for dealing with assaults on police, which reinforces the fact that the Victims’ Code apples to all victims, including officers, staff and volunteers, and commits to ensuring they receive the right welfare support and supervision.