More police officers in Gwent are being injured while carrying out their duties than ever before, the force’s deputy chief constable has said.
Temporary deputy chief constable of Gwent Police, Jon Edwards, says there is “not a weekend that goes by” when the force does not receive reports of officers being hurt, “often with quite significant injuries”, during the course of their duties.
“It’s something we are seeing more now than we have ever before and it’s something we as a force have got to take real and positive steps towards,” deputy chief constable Edwards told a meeting of the Gwent Police and Crime Panel on Friday, September 27.
Gwent Police is currently projecting a 30% increase in the number of officers who are assaulted while on duty.
In response to the rise, the force is looking to increase its proportion of Taser trained officers from 20% to 36%, the meeting was told.
Deputy chief Edwards said the move reflects a national push to support officers to carry out their duties.
He said: “This is something that is going on across the country.
“Day in, day out, officers are getting assaulted.”
The chief constable of Gwent Police, Pam Kelly, has also recently spoken out over the issue.
Last month over one weekend, five Gwent Police officers were hurt – and two taken to hospital with head injuries – while dealing with three separate call-outs in Newport, Abertillery and Abergavenny.
Chief constable Kelly described the incidents as “dreadful.”
Deputy chief Edwards spoke about the issue during a presentation on absence management on Friday.
The force has had some of the highest levels of long-term sick leave rates in England and Wales, but a new three-year strategy is starting to make an impact.
The meeting heard mental health related illnesses have had a “huge impact” on the availability of officers within the force.
Deputy chief Edwards said the force loses 4,000 days a year due to stress and anxiety-related illnesses, which is the equivalent of 17 officers.
A new strategy aims to improve absence rates by supporting staff back into work, and with a particular focus on supporting staff with mental health related issues.