Officers stabbed and 'fly-kicked in head': Assaults on Hackney police skyrocket as chiefs blame government cuts
PUBLISHED: 11:15 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:15 21 June 2019
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Assaults on police officers in Hackney have more than tripled in five years - and the blame has been laid with government funding cuts that have left them more vulnerable.
In 2014 there were 62 attacks on police in the borough. Last year there were 206, an increase of 232 per cent. In 2017 there were 163 reports.
The figures, obtained by this newspaper through a Freedom of Information request, are higher than in neighbouring Islington, though there is still an increase of more than 100pc in the last five years there too. Last year there were 162 attacks, compared with 70 in 2014.
Already this year a Hackney officer has been stabbed, another was "fly-kicked in the head" and two neighbourhood officers were ambushed by a man with a killer "zombie knife".
The Metropolitan Police Federation, the staff association representing every officer in London, blamed social media and the cash-strapped force's dwindling resources.
Chair Ken Marsh told the Gazette officers were "absolutely more vulnerable" when patrolling or responding to an incident due to funding cuts that will reach £1billion by 2023. And he hit out at politicians who have suggested funding is not an issue.
"I find it quite absurd the comments made by politicians about our resources," he added. "They've never done the job in their life and don't know what we do day-to-day. We need more funding.
"Officers are working 12 to 14 hours a day. They are fatigued, they are demoralised and there are mental health issues."
In March an officer was stabbed during a "domestic disturbance" in Homerton that led to a man being shot by police.
Also that month two neighbourhood officers were ambushed by a man armed with a "zombie-knife" but managed to make an arrest before anyone was injured.
And last month officers were arresting teenagers in Shoreditch for jumping on cars when one of them was "viciously assaulted by a two-footed fly kick to the head".
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Ken added: "Social media has a big part to play. I've said people should stop filming attacks on police and putting it on social media like it's a joke.
"But I also think society as a whole is more violent these days. I'm 55, and if you hark back to the good old days the worst you would get is a bit of fisticuffs.
"Now people will just pull a knife or a gun out."
A Woodberry Down officer was surrounded in March by a group who threw "large objects" at his head causing a concussion. They then began "pelting him with stones and eggs". Two males were later arrested.
The same month a member of the Wick safer neighbourhoods team was seriously injured while trying to deal with an incident outside Tesco in Well Street.
In April an officer was spat at and racially abused while arresting a man who had failed to turn up at court.
Last year the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill was introduced, doubling the maximum sentence for common assault from six months to a year.
But Ken said it was still too weak, and wasn't always acted on anyway.
"It used to be set in stone what happened if you assaulted an officer," he said. "If it's not going to be acted on what's the point of it?"
The Gazette has been trying to speak to someone at Hackney police about this story for more than a month with no response.
A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: "Policing is challenging and by its very nature is unpredictable. However, no officer should be subject to assault. All policing activities are risk assessed and appropriate mitigation measures implemented to reduce the risk of injury, as far as is it reasonably practicable to do so.
"In the unfortunate circumstances that an officer is injured or assaulted, the Met has comprehensive occupational support services to provide injured officers, and access to additional health services to assist individuals and their line managers, with the personalised care they require."