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Understanding assaults against police officers: A study of conflict escalation in police encounters with the public

Published 16 Jun 2022
Written by
Oscar Kilo
National Police Wellbeing Service
Reading time
3 mins

Dr Lee Johnson, a serving police sergeant has completed a PhD with a focus on assaults on police officers. In this article, he shares the link to his full study and talks us through why this work is so important.

Headshot of Dr Lee Johnson, a serving police sergeant from Lincolnshire Police
Dr Lee Johnson, Sergeant, Lincolnshire Police


Dr Lee Johnson, a serving police sergeant from Lincolnshire Police completed his PhD in 2019 with a focus on assaults on police officers and escalation.  

Supported by the College of Policing and Lincolnshire Police, the study evaluated assaults on police officers, observing live incidents and exploring lived experiences around assaults to analyse the factors associated with incidents of assault, the response to violence against officers alongside police culture and legitimacy.

The study also explored officer and public behaviours and actions during interactions and incidents and how such behaviours can change the outcome of police/public encounters.

Read Lee’s study here

Lee is also the lead for Operation Hampshire in his force and through his years in the job has seen the impact that being assaulted can have.

Lee said,

This an area that I am particularly passionate about having started my research in 2011 and completing it in 2019. 

I have dedicated my time to understanding violence against officers and cultural responses and am fully focused on drawing attention the extent of violence and solutions we can introduce to reduce the number, but also ensure officers and staff are supported should they be the victim of crime. My PhD has given me a great opportunity to use this knowledge both academically and practically within policing.

I also support the College Bursary, supporting those who wish to carry out research or academic learning alongside their role, knowing the challenges that it brings but also the rewards that such research and knowledge can have on developing policies and supporting policing.


Find out more about the College Bursary Scheme.

More about Lee

Lee joined Lincolnshire Police, joining in 2009 as a researcher and analyst and becoming a police officer in 2010.

In his career, he has worked on frontline response, as a staff officer to the chief officer team, and was operational lead for our blue light collaboration with other emergency services.

He currently leads on the crimes against officers and staff policy both locally and nationally and has a keen interest in violence against police, police culture, and officer wellbeing and resilience.

About Operation Hampshire

Operation Hampshire is the national approach to assaults on police officers and staff – it provides not only a strategy for the organisation, but a series of guides and handy tips for line managers, and for people who have been assaulted in their duties – use the button below to access those resources.

Find out more about Operation Hampshire