Law & Order: Survey shows police training muddle

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Weaknesses in police first-aid training, and confusion about the use of protective techniques and equipment have been revealed in a survey of police safety released yesterday.

The report, by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, reveals that assaults on police increased by 4 per cent to 15,488 last year, reversing a trend which had seen violence decrease from 19,150 attacks in 1991 to 14,840 in 1995. The survey calls for better co-ordination within police forces, to ensure that officers know how to protect themselves and the public in potentially violent situations. Improvements in safety training and equipment could cut assaults, complaints and sickness levels, boost morale and improve operational capacity, said the report, Officer Safety - Minimising the Risk of Violence. With 31 per cent of injuries suffered by police affecting the head, one of the key improvements discussed is a redesigned helmet.

Inspectors, who studied 10 forces around the country, found that officers had welcomed the batons and CS sprays introduced in recent years. Some forces reported dramatic reductions in assaults on officers, with no increase in complaints from the public, after the introduction of batons to replace the old-style wooden truncheons.