There are generally two systems that we use for reporting assaults and injuries but they are separate and we use them differently.
Assaults should be reported on your local/force crime platform (Niche/CRIS etc). In order to comply with our legal health and safety (H&S) obligations forces also have various health and safety reporting methods, some electronic, some paper-based. In some cases, they overlap. Reporting assaults with injury and near misses through health and safety processes is a legal requirement.
Yes, it can mean repetition but it’s important to get right. Why?
The figures generated from both platforms help us understand what has happened to our colleagues as soon as possible. They help us inform tactics and training and prepare for the next time. They help us accurately inform others such as the Home Office and the media of what it is our colleagues face. They help us support you and your colleagues.
Assault v injury on duty
Clearly, not all assaults result in injury, and conversely not all injuries are as a result of an assault. It is important that we assess and accurately record assault and injuries correctly so that the most appropriate investigation can be conducted be that criminal or health and safety focused.
In evidencing an assault, it is important to show where possible that the suspect carried out an intentional act. This evidence could be something said by the suspect before the assault or a witness/victim account of a deliberate act (e.g. slapping, punching, kicking, spitting, etc). Ultimately, every assault or injury needs to be assessed on its merits and if there is no clear deliberate, or obvious intent to cause harm then the issue of recklessness will need to be carefully assessed to ensure we record the incident accurately.
Injury on duty
Examples of incidents that would amount to an injury on duty but not an assault could include:
- restraining a suspect on the floor who is resisting and receiving a graze to the knee
- a cut to the hand sustained whilst cuffing a suspect
- a scrape on the knuckles on a wall whilst arresting a suspect
- pulled ligaments or sprains when a suspect tears themselves away from an officers grasp in order to resist arrest
There is no legal definition of ‘resisting arrest’ and the term ‘resist’ does not imply assault. A suspects who pulls themselves away from an officer who is attempting to detain them does not necessarily commit and assault regardless of whether an injury occurred as a result.
Consideration should be given as to the intention of the suspect in each case as this will be key as to whether the incident is an assault or an injury on duty.