Harrogate police officers threatened and assaulted in appalling spate of New Year attacks

Harrogate police officers have been punched, threatened and left with broken bones in an appalling spate of New Year attacks, prompting a fresh plea for members of the public to respect their protectors.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 4:06 pm
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 4:11 pm

On Friday, January 3, an officer was punched in the face and suffered a fractured cheekbone. A 36-year-old man was charged with assault.

Also in the first week of January, two officers acting as good Samaritans for a drunk man they found in Harrogate town centre, ended up being assaulted by him. To ensure his safety, they had agreed to give the man a lift to a nearby service station, where he was to be met by his parents.

But after arriving at the agreed location, the man became violent and attacked the officers, breaking one’s finger and punching the other in the face. An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and has been released under investigation.

Police have issued a statement about the spate of attacks.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said that although the vast majority of people in North Yorkshire have started the year in a positive way, many spent the first day of 2020 in a police cell - 36 were arrested in the county by North Yorkshire Police on New Year's Eve, with another 52 arrested on New Year's Day and a number held in custody.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker, said: "Many of my colleagues have spent their Christmas and New Year period on duty, working hard to keep our communities safe - including some of the most vulnerable in society. That’s why it is so disappointing to see that an unacceptable number of them have been subjected to abuse, assaults and threats while carrying out their duties.

“Although police regularly place themselves in harm's way to protect others, it is never right to assume that they themselves should expect to be attacked or injured as 'part of the job'. Such assaults are entirely and completely unacceptable.”

Elsewhere in North Yorkshire, the first arrest of 2020 came at one minute past midnight on Rougier Street in York, where a 31-year-old man had become violent at a local hotel. The man resisted arrest and in the process, assaulted three police officers. He was taken into custody and charged with three counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

Minutes later, three officers attended an incident in Acomb, where a man was reported to be acting in a violent manner. Officers found the man sat in a car, inside the garage of a property.

When officers attempted to speak to him, he became aggressive, driving the car close to the officers and causing substantial damage to the garage.

The officers managed to open the car door and arrest the driver, resulting in minor physical injuries to one officer. A 40-year-old man was subsequently charged with assault and affray. He will appear at York Magistrates' Court later this month

At 1.30am the same morning, officers in York stopped and spoke to a man on Blake Street about an unconnected incident. He racially abused one of the officers, resulting in him being arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence. The man, who is 23 and from York, has been released under investigation, and will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.

Later the same day, at around 11.15pm, a Roads Policing Officer stopped a vehicle on the A658 near Pool-in-Wharfedale on suspicion of drink driving. As the officer attempted to carry out a roadside breath test, two male passengers got out of the car and made threats towards the officer, before all three men got back into the car and drove away.

The officer was left in significant fear for his safety, and although he immediately tried to catch up with the vehicle, it was not located.

Police enquiries into the incident continued, and two men from the Leeds area were arrested the following day. A 23-year-old man has been charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, and obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries. The investigation is ongoing to locate the third man involved in the incident.

Since New Year's Day, five more officers have required treatment for injuries sustained while carrying out their duties.

Assistant Chief Constable Walker added: "Members of the public can be reassured that North Yorkshire Police will be here for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round. And those who subject us to assaults and threats will find themselves dealt with robustly, and put before the courts to answer for their crimes.

"As we anticipated, the festive period has been an extremely busy time for our officers and staff and I am incredibly proud of my colleagues who have continued to provide a professional service to all those in need of our help.”