Police officers spat on, kicked and punched in assaults

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THEY have been punched, kicked, shoved and even spat on in their line of duty, and now the Leader can reveal the extent of violence against police officers in Banbridge.

In a five-year period 117 people have been convicted at Banbridge Magistrates’ Court of assaulting police.

The figure fell to 16 convictions last year, from 26 the previous year - but still gives a glimpse into the type of aggression police officers can face on a daily basis.

Cases heard at the local Magistrates’ Court include one in 2007, when there were 22 convictions, where a female constable was grabbed “in an aggressive manner” leaving her with pain in her neck and torso.

The following year saw a defendant who had just turned 18 resist arrest by kicking an officer on the leg before spitting in the face of another constable, and attempting to headbutt one of their colleagues.

Two years ago the court heard that a man pushed a police officer who subsequently fell backwards into a stack of wood, and kicked another officer, breaking his watch strap.

Speaking at the time, District Judge Paul Copeland said the defendant “had a history of confrontation with police”.

Inspector Joe McMinn of Banbridge police said: “Often we deal with people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or in highly pressurised circumstances, however, there can be no excuse for attacking a police officer. If a member of the public is assaulted they expect the perpetrator to be brought to justice and it is no different in the case of a police officer.

“In many circumstances officers are attacked while working to make the area safer. We expect the highest standards of behaviour from our officers and similarly we expect that they will be treated with the respect they deserve from the communities they serve.

“The decrease in figures (of people convicted of assaulting officers) shows that the message is getting through that it is never acceptable to assault police.”