A Dangerous Job Under Difficult Circumstances? – The Myth of Police Danger

It seems as if nobody these days is allowed to defame our once great national police force without applying their unofficially adopted disclaimer of: “They do a dangerous job under difficult circumstances.”  But just how dangerous a job is it when you’re kitted up in a glow in the dark uniform, with a stab vest, night-stick, CS spray, handcuffs, emergency radio, and a shiny red push-button that conjures up half the force should things get heady? 
Not to mention all the riot gear, Tasers, horses, dogs, vehicles, guns, helicopters, water canon, tear gas and multitude of troops at their disposal 24/7 for 365 days of the year…

Now compare that with the occupation of say, a builder.  With his yellow hard hat and uhm…well that’s it. Oh, maybe his hi-viz jacket so his mates know where to find him should he fall a hundred feet to his death and land in an awkward place. Why don’t they earn the accolade of ‘Doing a dangerous job under difficult circumstances?’ Especially when builders suffer more injuries and deaths per year than the police. As do all of the following:

  • lorry drivers
  • miners
  • firemen
  • roofers
  • farmers
  • bouncers
  • soldiers
  • steel-workers
  • fisherman
  • bin men
  • pilots
  • body guards

Admittedly, the difference between the police and most other occupations is that the threat of injury is usually due to the design of others, rather than personal accident. I’m certain there isn’t a police officer in the UK who hasn’t a story to tell about a near miss stabbing incident, so much so you’d think they patrol the streets looking like a human knife rack. But just how prodigious is this threat of being stabbed while on duty.

Take Derby Constabulary for instance. There are over 2,700 officers policing roughly 460,000 people. On Derby Police’s website they claim to be policing a million people. I imagine the missing half a million are all the ‘tourists’ our equally useful border agency failed to filtrate. Who knows? Even if there are a million Derby citizens and 2,700 coppers that’s still an awful lot of potential stabbings just waiting to greet them among the lawless minority.

So how many officers in Derby would you guess were the victims of a knife assault in the whole of 2011?  Including scissors, needles and anything with a sharp point.  In fact, don’t just include injury, include near misses; people swinging or lunging at them with absolutely anything that could be construed as a stabbing weapon. What would you guess? 300 maybe?


Lower? Higher?

You know what the answer is?


Yup. Not a single one.

Believe it or not, there’s not a single record of an officer being injured as a result of stabbing, or any near misses in the year 2011. Don’t believe me? Well take a look at a response from the police themselves when asked via a Freedom of Information request.

Okay, so maybe Derby Constabulary isn’t a very good example. The city not being a good example of anything except a horrible place to live.  So let’s try somewhere a little more crowded, and a lot more lawless.

How about Greater Manchester Police. The third largest force in the UK. Population of 2.5 million and a force of 8,148 officers. That’s one cop for every  306 civilians. How many officers were the victims of knife crime there?



Yup, a staggering, mind-numbing 2. One a needle prick, the other a near miss to the chest with a pair of scissors.

But surely this is all wrong. Somebody or something have got their wires crossed here. I mean, the police and the media and all these senior officers couldn’t really be exaggerating the threat our police officers face from bladed weapons just to keep us in a perpetual state of law-surrendering fear, could they?

Could they ever.  They’ve been doing it for years.

Take the number two biggest police force in the UK. West Midlands Police, with 8,584 police officers protecting 2.9 million civilians.  They lay claim to 10 such knife incidents against their officers.  Although curiously they end the report with the disclaimer:-

“Please note that not all of these injuries have been caused directly by the sharp instrument.”

Whatever the hell THAT means.

In fact you only have to dig superficially around all the police constabularies to find that rarely, if ever, do the incidents ever make it into double figures.  Hertfordshire Constabulary choose to dodge the question entirely with that hackneyed FOI get-out clause of it being too expensive to find out. Gloucestershire Constabulary outwardly flout the law by not bothering to answer, even though it’s been 8 months. 

So let me do their answering for them, as well as add them to a few others that DID respond.

Hertfordshire Constabulary = 0
Gloucestershire Constabulary = 0
Lincolnshire Constabulary = 4
Merseyside Constabulary = 3
Staffordshire Constabulary = 0

On and on they go.  Reading more like football results than police stabbings. There are plenty more if you care to look them up.

What is telling about the figures I’ve stated, is that it only takes ONE person to swing at a cop with a knife and most police forces can state:

“Knife attacks on our officers have increased by 50% in the past year.” 

Yes, that’s right, they have. Gone up from 2 to a trouser-smearing 3.

For Derby, Merseyside and Staffordshire they wouldn’t have to have anything  happen to make the equally true claim of:

“Knife attacks against our police officers remain unchanged in the year 2012.”

In other words… they still equal zero.

Ever get the impression you’re being lied too?