"People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police…these demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery - and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account."
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, United Kingdom (07/06/2020)
I was extremely shocked, horrified, saddened & depressed to watch the horrific news on BBC that the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) protest in London near Whitehall marred by violence. Despite having risk of coronavirus spread in a mass gathering, thousands of BLM protesters peacefully rallied outside the US Embassy over the death of George Floyd in America.
Police Officer attacked & injured
The crowd broke out into chants of "enough is enough". A "thuggish minority" clashed with the police & threw flares to Police as they tried to dodge them. I was shocked to watch that a brave police officer was left bleeding from the injury of his head. This assault is clearly a criminal offence under the excising law of the land.
On 6th June 2020, a total of 14 police officers were injured - including a female cop thrown from her horse - as the protest turned violent. She collided with a traffic light before the horse bolted through a crowd of protesters.
The officer was taken to hospital with "nasty injuries". These brave police officers were executing their duties at the time of the assault, and therefore acting lawfully at the time when the alleged offence occurred. They were just patrolling on the street at that time just for one purpose – to protect our lives & our streets from the hands of the thugs. Unfortunately we failed to protect them. The number of assaults on UK Police Officers is shocking and completely unacceptable.
Violent Attack Violent attacks upon our Police Forces are not new. They were victims of 30,977 assaults last year, 10,399 of which caused injury — up 32 per cent from 7,903 in 2015/16. We should not forget that a civilised society depends on support for the police. In another incident, on 13th April 2020, a POLICE officer has been left seriously injured after he was reportedly stabbed while on duty.
UK Police Lives Matter & Law
We can’t allow this to continue any more. We need to make a stand for the protection of our Police Lives. Question arises what will happen if I obstruct or assault a police officer under the current law? Assaulting a police officer under the current law is deemed an ‘aggravated assault’ – and is treated more seriously by the courts.
Assaulting a police officer can happen at any time when a police officer comes into contact with the public and there is the potential for a police officer to be assaulted. This can often happen in demonstrations when they turn violent, or can happen when an officer is trying to arrest someone. Where, for example, someone resists arrests and punches the officer, this will be an assault.
To prove a charge of assaulting a police officer, the Crown must establish that an assault has taken place. The law states that an assault is committed when a person attacks another person by intentionally or recklessly causing another to apprehend the immediate infliction of unlawful force. Assault may also be a battery (when a person intentionally and recklessly applies unlawful force to another).
Elements of “Wilful Offence” in the context of assaulting Police Officers are not defined by statute in the UK. It is for the courts to interpret their meaning. Under the Common Law, the “Wilful Offence” has three elements: Firstly, Obstruction; for instance, making it more difficult for an officer to carry out his duty, or refusing to cooperate with a police officer’s questioning. Secondly; the obstruction must be ‘wilful’ i.e. deliberate or calculated. And thirdly, the police officer must have been acting in the course of his duty. These elements are not defined by statute and it is for the courts to interpret their meaning.
In my opinion the thugs who assaulted on our brave police officers could be liable under wilful obstruction. At the time of the offence, our brave police officers were under a duty to keep the peace and prevent a breach of the peace. Our police officers are attempting to prevent a breach of the peace, but a group of violent protesters refused to stop and obstructed police officers performing their duties. A group of violent thugs insulted, attacked and injured our brave Police Officers when they were simply patrolling on the street only to protect our lives & our streets from the hands of the violent protesters.
Penalties not harsh enough
Unfortunately, penalties under the current law are not harsh enough and offenders repeat time after time. Under section 89 of the Police Act 1996: It is a criminal offence to assault a constable in the execution of his duty, or a person assisting a constable in the course of his duty. It is an offence to resist or wilfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his duty.
To satisfy both elements of the section 89 offences, it must also be established that the assault took place while the officer was exercising his duties.
On conviction of assaulting a police officer contrary to section 89 of the Police Act 1996, the defendant only faces a sentence of up to 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000. On conviction of obstructing a police officer under section 89, the offender can only be sentenced to up to 1 month in prison and/or a fine of £1000.
As mentioned earlier, Penalties under the current law are not harsh enough and offenders repeat time after time. Barely one in four of those convicted of attacking police have been jailed since the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act were introduced in November. It doubled the maximum sentence from six to 12 months but so far the average term handed out is just eight weeks.
The despicable attack on our brave Police Officers again shows the daily dangers police officers face while protecting the public. “Enough is enough”. Our UK Police Lives also matter for the protection of our lives and streets. We cannot allow any more violent attack upon our brave Police Officers in the name of peaceful BLM demonstration. We cannot allow any violent movement; which would leave our streets lawless and reckless. We must give our Police Officers the lethal equipment they need to deal with the violent criminals. Those who assaulted our brave police officers should be arrested as criminals and given tougher sentences. We need to safeguard our brave police officers with the introduction of exemplary punishment.
Writer: M. A. Muid Khan, Barrister of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer of CILEX. Email: [email protected]
BDST: 1346 HRS, JUN 13, 2020