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  1. ITV Report

Have cuts to police funding made officers more vulnerable to violent attacks?

Britain's police numbers are dwindling. Between 2010 and 2016, nearly 20,000 officers were lost - meaning fewer patrols and more officers working alone.

The safety of Britain's police forces has been brought in to question following the death of a Thames Valley officer.

Pc Andrew Harper was killed as he responded to reports of a burglary at around 11:30pm on Thursday evening.

Ten people have been arrested following the officer's death, the youngest of whom is just 13-years-old.

  • Assaults on officers soar, figures show
Pc Andrew Harper was killed whilst responded to a burglary call. Credit: Mark Lord Photography

Pc Harper's death comes as figures show the number of assaults on police officers soared over the last year.

Assaults which resulted in injury to police constables rose 27%, the Office of National Statistics reports.

A total of 10,399 incidents were logged between April 2018 and March this year - 2,242 more than the 8,157 for the same period in the previous year.

A survey by the Police Federation, which represents 120,000 rank-and-file officers in England and Wales, showed that officers who remain on patrol are increasingly working alone.

In certain divisions of policing, the vast majority of officers said they are often or always single-crewed.

Seventy-six per cent of officers working in front line policing roles, including roads, operational support, investigations and neighbourhood response indicated they are often or always working solo.

  • Is policing getting more dangerous?
Police numbers have been falling in recent years. Credit: PA

Opinions are divided on the safety of the men and women who protect our homes and lives.

Asked at Friday afternoon's press conference about whether policing is becoming more dangerous, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said: "I think policing has always been dangerous," adding that there is an increase in violence presented towards officers.

He said: "Police officers, day in day out, face the kind of challenges and physical violence that often result in assault.

"In these circumstances, in these extreme circumstances, it's resulted in the loss of Andrew's life, so from that point of view, is policing getting more violent? I think generally there's a challenge for society in terms of the easy recourse to violence.

"But, certainly from a policing of view, we know there are certain associated risks."

But former Met Police chief superintendent Del Babu told ITV News officers these kind of attacks are on the rise, more than the public may appreciate.

He said: "Sadly these attacks are much more common than the public are aware of.

"We have actually seen significant amounts of scrutiny around these attacks - but sadly officers are attacked on a regular basis. Every 20 minutes.

"These have been serious attacks but unfortunately this has become common place."

He urged those making decisions for Britain's police spending to listen to officers about what it is actually like enforcing the law on the nation's streets.