A CHIEF constable has added her voice over the impact of attacks on her force’s officers.

Durham’s police chief, Jo Farrell, said an average of nine officers are assaulted in the line of duty each week, posing difficulties with frontline service provision due to resulting sickness leave.

She made her comments in a statement read to a court, where a man, with previous convictions for assaults on police, was jailed for concussing an officer.

Peter Ronald Blackbourn, 25, of Tayside, Darlington, appeared at Durham Crown Court, sitting at Newcastle, where he admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said officers attended an address in Chilton in response to reports of a man acting aggressively, on the evening of February 16.

Blackbourn was eventually detained, but only after swinging both arms at an officer, landing a heavy blow to the side of the head with the applied handcuffs.

Mr Sabiston said the injured officer felt unwell and was taken to hospital, where a CT scan revealed he had suffered concussion.

In his impact statement he said: “Assaults on police are becoming far too common, with what feels like little or no form of punishment.

“I believe they ought to dealt with robustly.”

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said the defendant lapsed into heavy drink and drug use at a time he was suffering, “significant mental health problems”, with depression and anxiety, but had stopped taking prescribed medication.

Mr Mochrie said Blackbourn has since sought help from agencies to address his alcohol intake.

Jailing him for 13 months, Judge James Adkin told Blackbourn: “This sort of offending is all too prevalent with an average of nine such attacks each week in the Durham Constabulary area.”

In her statement, Chief Constable Farrell said: “All too often police constables are subject to assaults and threats.”

She said it was “never acceptable” that officers should expect to suffer assaults.

“Assaults are serious and unacceptable.”

She said after each assault there was the potential for an absence from work, placing strain on frontline policing.

“We have a duty to protect the public, but we are all too often prevented from doing so by violent individuals who choose to attack those who are there to help.

“They are victims like any other, but victims trying to protect others from being victims.”