Halifax MP Holly Lynch demands better protection for police

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HALIFAX MP Holly Lynch has urged the Government to do more to protect police officers from a rising tide of violence against them.

Ms Lynch called on ministers to ensure that police forces have the funding they need to make sure officers do not have to patrol on their own.

She also suggested the courts should be encouraged to take a tougher approach to sentencing of those convicted of assaulting the police.

Almost 1,000 incidents of assaults on police have been recorded in the last year in the West Yorkshire force area alone.

The Halifax MP witnessed the problem for herself earlier this year while spending a shift with officers.

Ms Lynch saw the officer she was with, Pc Craig Gallant, surrounded by an aggressive group after he stopped a driver who had failed to stop.

Last night she led a debate in the Commons on the issue of police officer safety.

She said: “The sentencing guidelines say that wherever possible if it is a custodial sentence, could it be a suspended sentence and more and more often people are getting a suspended sentence when they have committed quite serious offences against a police officer. “I’m asking for much tougher sentences to act as a deterrent to prevent anybody from assaulting a police officer.”

Ms Lynch, herself the daughter of a retired police officer, said West Yorkshire Police had lost 1,200 officers in recent years.

She said: “It means that more and more often officers are being asked to attend violent incidents, quite serious incidents, on their own, so they are vulnerable to assaults when they are dealing with those situations. “Are we sure they have got all the resources they need and what can we do to make sure that wherever possible we are double-crewing police officers?”

The MP admitted her experience with Pc Gallant had spurred her to take up the issue of assaults on police.

She said: “My dad’s a retired police sergeant so I’ve obviously got a huge amount of respect for the work that they do.

“As a constituency MP I’ve also been keen to spend time with all the frontline emergency services.

“I had this experience, seen it for myself and have been keen to do something about it in my role as an MP.”

Ms Lynch suggested the number of assaults was likely to be higher than the recorded number as many officers were not reporting them.

The Police Federation is encouraging officers to make sure they document incidents where they are assaulted.

Ms Lynch also wants the Government to review the way incidents are recorded to make sure they are registered in the same way by forces across the country.

She said: We are not appropriately collecting the data and recording when there’s been an assault on a police officer. “All the different forces are collecting that in different ways which makes it difficult to understand the scale of the problem or to compare forces.”

Ahead of the debate last night, Ms Lynch hosted an event in Parliament giving MPs the chance to meet Pc Gallant and representatives of the police federation and hear about the number of assaults on officers in their constituencies. She also held a meeting with Police Minister Brandon Lewis to raise her concerns. The Police Federation estimates 23,000 officers are assaulted nationally every year.