Members of the public have been warned not to intervene with potentially dangerous arrests after a top officer bemoaned a “broken society” in which people were no longer willing to step in and help.
Following the release of footage showing two police officers being attacked during a routine traffic stop in London, the chairman of the Met Police Federation suggested witnesses to such incidents need to “stand up for what is right” and assist those in need.
Ken Marsh, who represents thousands of officers across the country, said that people stopping to film attacks “would never have happened” in years gone by and suggested that officers may have to let criminals run free if not doing so leaves them vulnerable.
He said: “Are we now in a society where, if we think we can’t detain somebody, we just let them go? It’s just not worth it.
“We’re going to come to a point where we’re going to start pushing messages out to our colleagues ‘risk-assess it dynamically and, if you think you can’t detain a person, just let them go’.
“We don’t come to work to get assaulted.
“If we’re not going to be backed up in what we’re doing then what is the point?”
Steve House, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has admitted officers would be “grateful” for the public to assist them with a difficult arrest – but said they should only intervene if they can do so safely.
He said that despite the traffic stop incident in Merton on Saturday evening, which saw just one onlooker attempt to help officers, the force remained determined to tackle violent offenders.
“Whilst officers should never expect to be attacked as part of their job, a core part of officer safety training is ensuring they know how to respond to volatile situations,” he said.
“This training is substantial and delivered in accordance with national guidelines and we regularly review it to make sure it is fit for purpose.
“Officers are also issued with personal protective equipment to help protect them and the public.
“I am mindful that members of the public do not have access to such items and while any officer would be grateful for the public to assist them with a difficult arrest, they should only intervene if they can safely do so.”
Of the three suspects involved in the attack in Merton, only one – Martin Payne, of south Croydon – has been arrested. The other two have not been detained.
:: Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Merton via 101 quoting reference CAD 6952/17Nov.