Lincolnshire Police Sergeant Lee Johnson has been leading important new research exploring how to better prevent assaults on police.
Lee began researching the occupational culture of the police in 2007 as part of a module for a degree and his interest continued into later work during his PhD. Here, he examined police assaults, and sought to enquire how police culture influenced behaviour and incident outcomes.
In Lincolnshire Police, Lee has been working on better understanding of, and finding ways to better support, police professionals who are the victims of crime whilst on duty; this includes those who are assaults, victims of hate crime, sexual assaults or threats to kill/harm. This work compliments and supports the national work of Operation Hampshire and feeds into the wider national work on assaults.
The research-informed policy set out to better understand crimes against officers and determine from the data what can be done to reduce their frequency and provide better support for all victims of these crimes through structured support, welfare and wellbeing mechanisms; and encourage partnership working towards common goals.
Some of the work explored the notion that officers sometimes felt that they needed to show they were not affected by being assaulted. Some police professionals do not perceive themselves as victims, and believe that police officers cannot be victims of crime in the truest sense of the word as to ask for help and support is a negative and could affect progression chances in the force.
To challenge this culture, the Lincolnshire approach involved ensuring the Victims Code of Practice was used more consistently: the intention was to remove the idea that victims code was not required because the injured party was a police officer.
Peer support and reflective learning was promoted, to encourage officers to open up about support. Whilst physical assaults may have a more obvious visible impact, other types of assault can be harmful; the psychological and visceral impact of hate crime, for example, can be longer lasting and challenging for the victim.
A 6-month review has identified many insights and the next stage is actively asking how to reduce the number of assaults and crimes against officers.
This most recent stage examines several areas:
– Training and guidance to officers around key trends
– Reflecting on available PPE and Uniform
– Looking into where assaults take place and monitoring key trends
– Lessons learned from incidents both locally and the generalisability of this data across all forces. This work includes comparing and contrasting work between forces on assaults data
– Collaborative working with emergency services and between police forces
– Reviewing data in respect of both local and national policies, concepts and
approaches to officer safety
– Ensuring confidence in reporting crimes and confidence in their investigation and outcome
The focus of future work surrounds continuing to develop understanding of crimes and put in practical and realistic policies to try and prevent assaults and increase officer safety both in terms of real risk and the perceived risk of officers and staff to the role.
The work is being mapped against national initiatives to see if findings on assaults are replicated or are different according to force area, size, nature of officers (things such as frontline experience, rural v urban policing, confidence and communities).
If you would like to find out more, or support this important work, including if you wish to collaborate or compare assaults data between forces get in touch with Lee at:- Lee.Johnson@lincs.police.uk