Several days ago, a Police Officer serving with Essex Police felt so let down by the Courts in relation to the ‘punishment’ handed down to his attacker that he spoke out.
And, in doing so, gained the full support of his Chief Constable and the wider police and emergency services family, including the Police Federation.
PC Rhys Linge says his assailant, who was ordered to pay him JUST £50 in compensation, will ‘feel like he’s got away with it’ and that he and his colleagues are feeling increasingly let down by the courts.
This is something our team hears time and time again. You only need to search our archives under the heading ‘assaulted on duty’ in order to read about the frequency with which our colleagues are being assaulted.
And how, time after time, our colleagues feel let down by the very same courts which they are sworn to serve and protect.
PC Linge has had to wait for various hospital tests to see if the incident has left him infected with any infectious disease and he’s been taking preventative medicines since the assault occurred.
And this medication has some very unpleasant side-effects.
PC Linge told his local Federation:
“It was disgusting. It’s one of the worst things that a human being can do to another human, especially the fact that it was in the face as well, and that it was full of blood.
“If a magistrate was spat at I’m sure it would be a different outcome.
“It’s just wrong – all the work we put in to doing what we do. It’s the fact that this man is out again and the fact that the money’s such a low amount.”
PC Linge had been called out to assist his colleagues who were dealing with reports of a man smashing up a property.
The officers at the scene managed to get the male under control and also administered first aid to him, as he had sustained a face injury which was bleeding heavily.
As he was read the details of why he was being arrested he screamed out and sprayed some blood into the air.
PC Linge, who was 20 at the time of the attack, then asked him not to spit as blood was continuing to drip into his mouth from a nose injury.
The suspect then began to struggle and as he was being led away from the police car he spat out at PC Linge showering his face, glasses and radio in bloody saliva.
PC Linge told the Essex Police Federation: “I went back to the station and my Inspector became aware of the incident and that spit and blood had gone into my mouth and over my face.
“I had to go up to hospital and have a blood test. I’ve only just got the results back and they look like they are all clear. I’ll send them up to occupational health, but the wait for the results which has been nearly two weeks has been quite traumatic, waiting to see whether I’ve got what he might have got.
“There is no deterrent, and obviously members of the public now are going to view that as well,” he added.
“They feel that, and we feel that – the colleagues I’ve spoken to feel the courts have let us down yet again, as they do quite often when it comes to assaults on officers.
“It will make me more aware the next time I have someone who potentially could spit,” he added.
“But to be honest, because of what we do, you just have to knuckle down and get on with it and wait for the next harm.
“If people are doing this to police officers then they should be going away for a period of time.”
Essex Police Federation Chairman Steve Taylor was furious with the court’s sentencing, especially as it comes a week after the Emergency Services Workers (Offences) Bill, aimed at providing tougher sentences for assaults, gained Royal Assent.
“For this individual to come before the bench, to plead guilty for this assault and to be on licence for the offence of having assaulted a police officer in the past and not to receive a custodial sentence, not to receive something far more meaningful than having to pay £50 compensation, which is a paltry figure and probably won’t be received by the officer anyway – is incredibly poor,” he said.
“Assaults like this resonate across the force, colleagues in PC Linge’s position often say they can’t pick up their kids or have a normal family life while they wait to see if they have caught anything.
“The courts have let us down. Will this individual or others think twice before lashing out, before assaulting a police officer?
“The courts had an option to send a clear message, but they chose not to, and they have let us down. I’m left with zero confidence that this individual has learnt any sort of lesson that this behaviour us unacceptable,” he added.
“The powers that be decided to leave spitting at emergency services workers out of the Bill, and we are working hard to ensure individuals like this can feel the full strength of the law to help send out the right deterrent.”
Essex Police Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh will also be writing to the Head of Local Magistrates about the leniency shown in this case.
PC Linge said he was grateful to his colleagues for their support.
“The Essex Police Federation have been fantastic, as have my colleagues,” PC Linge added.
“But you get the feeling from the Government and from the courts that there isn’t that support there.
“It is just me and my colleagues fighting the world. That’s how it feels. It’s so disappointing. The courts are supposed to be there to finish off the second part of what we do, and they don’t, more often than not.”
The man who spat at PC Linge has a previous conviction for assaulting an officer and alongside the £50 compensation order for the assault on a constable he pleaded guilty to criminal damage at Colchester Magistrates Court.
For that he was given a 12 Month Community Order and a Rehabilitation activity requirement for 40 days and Programme requirement for 29 days.
The question remains; when are the Courts going to start taking more seriously the cases which they hear that involve members of the emergency services being assaulted? What will it take?
We already know that most members of the public as well as members of the emergency services believe that tougher sentences should start to be handed out to anyone convicted of assaulting a member of the emergency services, so why is it not happening?
We also know that most MP’s back our emergency services and the work which they do, so how about doing more to ensure that anyone convicted of assaulting our colleagues gets treated with the punishment which they deserve?
You cannot expect, in this case, police officers, to put their lives on the line to them be treated as ‘fair game’ when it comes to asking for the judiciary to look out for them?
What would have happened if the police officer would have spat in the face of the suspect? He would have lost his job and, without a doubt, would have been sent to prison.
And yet, the individual who spat BLOOD in the face of this police officer gets a measly £50 fine that he probably won’t even pay.
Forces up-and-down the country appear to have been given the green light to start recruiting again following the ridiculous cuts which they were subjected to.
But these stories of officers being let down by the courts, when it comes to people being punished for assaulting them, will maybe start to make potential applicants think twice about joining the police.
Something needs to change.
It is great that the Chief Constable is getting behind his officers. But it’s now time that the Courts started to back our men and women in blue as well…
Our colleagues have the right to feel that, should the worst happen, that they will be protected by the very same legal system that they are expected to give their life to if/when the ultimate sacrifice is ever made.
Written by one of the many admins of Emergency Services Humour who is also a regular blogger in our fortnightly eMagazine ’S__ts & Giggles’ which you can sign up to by visiting our Facebook page and clicking on the ‘sign up’ button or by visiting: ShitsAndGiggles.Online
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The judge needs to be made to resign Now.