Assaulted... oh well
The Scottish Federation has highlighted the sentences usually handed out for people who assault police officers. These tend to constitute a few quid fine which may or may not be paid. The last time I received compensation for being assaulted (yes, there has been more than once), it was about £60. I got £5 a month for twelve months. Which made me feel a lot better and deterred the offender from assaulting another officer for a good few weeks.
'An assault on a police officer is an assault on society,' any police federation member will state, as seen in this case where PC Stuart Dixon's attacker walked free from court. And most of us recall the case of PC Gemma Maggs, scarred by a violent thug who received a few hours' community service and less compensation to pay than someone sentenced the same day for graffiti - despite it being his second assault on a police officer.
The trouble is, it is normal to plead guilty to assault police, because it's nearly always witnessed by police officers or on CCTV (for example in a town centre). And when a guilty plea is entered, the defence can include mitigation which the Crown rarely bother to argue with: 'The officer was winding him up', 'He didn't realise it was a police officer', 'She's very sorry and has nightmares about her behaviour', 'She's since entered a drug treatment programme. Etc. It's easier to accept a guilty plea than go through the palaver and expense of a trial simply to confirm the facts of a case that has already been proven. This isn't just the case with assault police, it's the case with all offences, and as charging standards slip and slip to pursue offences that are easier and easier to prove, the plea-bargaining drops even further down until people who have stabbed and beaten others are being sentenced for Common Assault. Or those who have driven drunk, without insurance, injuring someone and fleeing the police in a crazed pursuit across town, are sentenced as though they merely had a pint extra and drove home safely.
The Federation rep in the above article suggests a mandatory nine month sentence for all assaults on police. Whilst this might be unrealistic in cases where it's a push or shove and the officer is uninjured, is it too much to expect that someone who thumps a police officer should spend at least a few days behind bars? I think most of us would rather see our attacker jailed for a month than asked to cough up a paltry amount of compensation that may or may not be paid. As would most members of the public who get assaulted when not on-duty as a police officer.
Most of the young thugs who have lashed out at me have never actually been to prison for any of their half dozen or dozen convictions. A sudden remand in prison for the weeks pending sentence might even filter through to their dense minds, the next time they are poised with fist clenched at the words "You are under arrest".
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.