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Rise in assaults on Thames Valley Police officers

Chief Constable, John Campbell, talks to newburytoday

John Campbell, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police
John Campbell, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police

THERE has been a sharp increase in assaults on police officers across the Thames Valley in the past year – but overall crime is down.

That was the message from the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, John Campbell last month.

In an interview with newburytoday, he said that a large proportion of the assaults on his officers were Covid-related.

“We have had an increase in assaults on officers and a lot of this has been Covid-related; such as coughing over them,” said Mr Campbell.

“Assaults on officers in the Thames Valley are 22 per cent up on last year and a large chunk are related to Covid.”

And although he would also like his frontline officers to be given the coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible, he said he didn’t want this to be at the expense of vulnerable members of society.

He said: “Our position always has been that the police service doesn’t want to jump ahead of more vulnerable groups, but what we are saying to Government is that if there is availability of the vaccine then we would like to be considered, particularly our frontline officers, our custody staff.

“But not at the expense of anyone who is vulnerable.

“We have seven-and-a-half thousand staff so we are as vulnerable to contamination from the virus as any other organisation, but we have lots of procedures in place and PPE available.”

Since the start of the year his officers have launched three murder investigations in Reading – with a further two in Milton Keynes – but despite this Mr Campbell says violent crime has actually decreased by 13 per cent across Berkshire.

He said: “Policing has had to adapt to the changing crime types and the challenges of protecting the public and our own staff. It has been a very challenging year for us.

“The number of calls [to police] aren’t too different now from this time last year, but certain types of crimes have significantly decreased.”

He added that burglary was down 43 per cent, due to the fact that police have had time to proactively tackle the issue, as well as the fact that more people are now staying at home.

Talking about crime in the rural areas, Mr Campbell said a new, visible, taskforce was being created to tackle the issue.

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