‘Epidemic of violence’ against police officers must be addressed, says EuroCOP

The European Parliament is being urged to take action on the “epidemic of violence” against police officers.

Feb 8, 2022
By Paul Jacques
Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation

Calum Steele, president of the European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP), said politicians and lawmakers “have been silent on this issue for far too long”.

In a letter to members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), Mr Steele said: “As the leading voice of police officers in Europe, EuroCOP is increasingly concerned by an epidemic of violence against police officers that has continued to worsen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“EuroCOP is therefore calling for the European Parliament to take an active role in recognising the problem at an EU level. Our membership – which includes hundreds of thousands of police officers in 25 European countries – has been calling for this for a very long time.”

Mr Steele’s comments come after two German police officers – a 29-year-old male and a 24-year-old female student officer – were fatally shot during a routine traffic stop in the Kusel district of Rhineland-Palatinate in the early hours of the morning on Monday January 31.

“This brutal, tragic, and completely senseless murder is but one of many incidences in recent months of horrifying violence against police officers carrying out their daily duty to protect the public,” said Mr Steele, who is also general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation and secretary of the International Council of Police Representative Associations.

He added: “Police officers are society’s frontline protectors – and have been subject to unprecedented pressures in the past two years as they enforce Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. These restrictions – highly politicised and uniquely challenging from a societal perspective as they are – have put unimaginable strain on European police officers, both from a physical health and mental health perspective.

“Indeed, not only do officers have an increased risk of Covid-19 infection and reinfection compared to the general population, they have also borne the brunt of societal anger in regard to the lockdowns that have been put in place by the vast majority of European governments. That includes violence inflicted on officers when policing anti-lockdown or anti-vaccine demonstrations, which have frequently turned violent.

“When politicians remain silent on the violence police officers face, this emboldens perpetrators, and disheartens our wider populations. If violence against police officers is perceived to be acceptable, violence in general increases and all workers and citizens become less safe as a consequence.

“Europe’s politicians and lawmakers have been silent on this issue for far too long – and this is frankly deplorable. We are therefore calling for members of the European Parliament sitting in the LIBE Committee to bring this deteriorating situation to light at political levels through a debate.”

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