THERE appear to have been disgraceful scenes on Teesside over the weekend when police officers were attacked at 2.40am on Sunday while attending a fire. One officer suffered a serious hand injury plus facial injuries.

No police officer should be attacked on duty. Being assaulted should not be just part of the job of being officer. It is not an occupational hazard.

An officer is there to uphold the law and the values of the community, to protect the public and to assist in rectifying a situation on behalf of the people. Officers should be sacrosanct – too important to be interfered with. That’s why the rotten apples within the service, like Met officer Wayne Couzens who murdered Sarah Everard, are so dangerous for altering the public’s perception of officers.

The local MP in Hemlington, Simon Clarke, has labelled the perpetrators “utter, depraved scum”. That sort of language creates divisions and increases the temperature, although it probably reflects the unspoken sentiments of many law-abiding people.

In the UK, about 41,000 police officers are assaulted every year – that’s 110 per day. Cleveland, where there were 171 assaults last year, has no worse a problem than anywhere else, but the trend everywhere is up. Reports of the emergency services being lured into an area so they can be pelted with stones for the entertainment of a gang are not unknown.

The maximum sentence for assaulting a police officer is two years; the minimum is a low level community order. The courts have to support our officers, and all emergency workers, by handing down tough sentences to those found guilty of this crime which threatens the fabric of society, and also to those bystanders who did nothing to avert the incident.