A £50 offer of compensation sent to a police officer, who was punched in the face in the line of duty, has been branded an “insult”.
PC Hayley Hunter was hit in the face after she and a colleague dealt with a drunk man who had been thrown out of a Bedford Pub.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted two counts of assault by beating an emergency worker and was fined £120 at Luton Magistrates Court.
He was also ordered to pay PC Hunter £50. Her colleague was awarded £75 for also being punched but he also received a cut on his face.
PC Hunter has served with the force for 10 years and says it’s unlikely she’ll ever see the paltry payment: “I’m certainly not holding my breath for payment. “It’s unlikely I will receive any money.
“Fifty pounds is not really acceptable, it could pay for a tank of petrol. But, can you put a price on being punched? When my daughter asked why my face was sore I had to tell her that a bad man had hit her mummy.”
Research found that nationally up to 17 emergency staff are assaulted each day. New laws have now been created that have doubled maximum prison sentences from six months to a year for those found guilty of attacking emergency workers.
Campaigners have welcomed the introduction of the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill, but say the compensation payments remain “paltry”.
Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner has also weighed in on the payment. Kathryn Holloway said: “I am heartily sick of seeing the officers of Bedfordshire Police, and those elsewhere in the UK, treated as Aunt Sallies by members of the public with zero respect for their authority and uniform and no fear of the consequences.
“I know Hayley Hunter particularly well as I have accompanied her on visits in Bedford and Luton over almost three years.
“She is a quite exceptional officer and a key part of Bedfordshire Police’s Community Cohesion Team. It’s therefore particularly ironic, as well as sickening, that this officer found herself the victim of an unprovoked assault.
“The fact that she is to receive just £50 compensation as a result is, frankly, an insult.”
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said courts must treat attacks on officers more seriously or offences of this type will continue to rise.
“Police officers want to see justice and it is clear that assaults on police officers are not being treated with the seriousness they should be.
“Offenders will still face no deterrent unless magistrates and the criminal justice system take the issue of assaults seriously.
“The recent success in introducing the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill gave us hope that the judicial system would start to take violence against emergency workers more seriously.
“Sadly the message doesn’t seem to have got through and we continue to see perverse and weak sentences for those who assault police officers. This is unacceptable.”
Speaking to the Bedford Independent, PC Hunter said she was pleased to receive support from Bedfordshire’s PCC and the Police Federation: “I’m pleased that they have come out in support.
“As a federation rep myself I wanted bring this into the public domain as there is a big increase in officers being assaulted.”