Bitten, kicked, punched, spat at: PSNI chief hits out after 25 assaults on officers in 24-hour period

Bitten, kicked, punched, spat at: PSNI chief hits out after 25 assaults on officers in 24-hour period

THE PSNI has said assaults on its officers are unacceptable after revealing 25 members of the force were attacked while on duty during a 24-hour period this weekend.

Superintendent Nigel Henry revealed officers had been bitten, kicked, punched and spat at, while two officers were injured when their vehicle was rammed in Newry.

That incident saw a 37-year-old man arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified, using a motor vehicle without insurance and other motoring offences.

Meanwhile, 18 officers were assaulted in Belfast during the 24-hour spell from Saturday morning and Sunday morning.

Assaults 'must not be tolerated'

Supt Henry said while none of the injuries were serious, it was not acceptable that assaults should be considered part of the job of being a police officer.

"While thankfully no officers received any serious injuries and all were able to remain on duty, these assaults on our officers while simply doing their job is not acceptable," he said.

"Across Belfast alone, 18 officers were injured, which included seven officers in one incident.

"While arresting a woman following a report of criminal damage in north Belfast, one officer was spat at, with six others kicked and punched.

"An officer was bitten by a man in Banbridge, who was being arrested following a report of an assault.

"Two officers received minor injuries after their vehicle was rammed several times in Newry on Saturday night."

He added: "These are just some of the examples to highlight the risks our officers face every day.

"We, as a Police Service, will investigate these attacks rigorously, just as we would were it a member of the public.

"Our officers are here to help, and respond to calls assisting people.

"Assaults on police are unacceptable, and must not be tolerated as simply being 'part of the job'."

Call for tougher sentences

In October 2023, the PSNI revealed 17 officers had been assaulted over a similar 24-hour period, with one officer being headbutted and another slashed.

Meanwhile, last January, the force revealed 43 officers had been assaulted in 30 separate incidents during a seven-day period, resulting in some officers sustaining broken bones.

Supt Henry's condemnation was echoed by the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, who said the attacks were 'wholly unacceptable and wrong on every level'.

"We again call for tougher sentences to be handed down to those who bite, kick, punch and spit at officers on duty. It has to stop," the organisation posted on Twitter.