Northern Ireland news

Dozens of police officers assaulted in Northern Ireland in a week

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne (PA)
Rebecca Black, PA

More than 40 police officers have been assaulted in Northern Ireland in the last week, the chief constable said.

A number of officers were left injured following the spate of attacks, with a dislocated shoulder and several broken fingers among injuries reported.

At the weekend, two officers were injured after a car rammed into their police vehicle in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

They had been attempting to halt a suspected uninsured vehicle, but it failed to stop, and instead mounted a footpath before ramming the police car and fleeing across the Irish border.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris described the figures as “both alarming and disappointing”.

“My thoughts are with those injured and I commend all PSNI officers for the work they do on a daily basis to keep the people of Northern Ireland safe. I hope those responsible are brought to justice,” he said.

Those officers were injured and unable to continue with their duties, while the vehicle was put out of action.

On Monday PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne revealed that 43 of his officers have been assaulted in the last seven days across 30 separate incidents.

He tweeted: “Injuries include broken fingers, a dislocated knee and several being spat on.”

Mr Byrne added that to date 18 people have been charged with related offences.

A spokesperson for the Police Federation, which represents officers, described an “appalling catalogue of assaults on our men and women”.

“Our officers are not some kind of punchbag for the ills of society,” they said.

“They are people who work without fear or favour to safeguard people and property.

“They do not deserve to be on the receiving end of thuggish and violent behaviour.

“Officers who are injured are often unable to continue with their duties and that means officer numbers are depleted and the community suffers.

“Undeterred by thugs, officers will continue to to deliver everyday policing in the grip of an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

“The courts must use the full extent of powers at their disposal to send a clear message to would-be assailants that attacks will carry severe penalties and will be no longer tolerated.”