Every Day Eight Police Officers Assaulted In NI

Eight police officers per day assaulted on average

Over the last five years, eight police officers per day on average were assaulted while on duty.

A senior police spokesperson said that “this is a stark reminder of the difficult situations and challenges that officers’ face every day while simply carrying out their job.”

Superintendent Gary Busch from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Operational Support Department said: “In 2022/23 we had 3,272 assaults on officers reported to us.

“It’s important to remember that these are not just statistics but they represent real people with families and they don’t deserve to be assaulted just for just doing their job.

“We, as a Police Service, are committed to investigating these attacks rigorously, just as we would were it a member of the public.

“From today, Monday 4th March, the Chief Constable will provide a statement to case files where officers or staff have been assaulted while on duty, to highlight how these incidents impact both the individuals involved, and the Service as a whole.

“The assaults on police ranged from being spat at, head-butted, kicked, punched and having missiles thrown at them.”

‘We’re just trying to make a difference’

In December 2023, a Newry-based officer was head-butted by a man she was escorting into police custody – the extent of her injuries resulted in a concussion.

The local policing sergeant recalled what happened and said: “It came as a complete shock to me. All I remember is feeling his head on mine and then seeing stars.

“I count myself lucky, it could have been much more serious had he got from the front of my head.

“I’m still recovering from the assault, I had pain in my head for two weeks and am still dealing with the mental impact.

“These type of attacks are not acceptable. We are not human punch bags. We are doing our best to make a difference to the communities we serve.”

These incidents have the potential to seriously injure police officers. Superintendent Busch added: “These examples show just two of the 15,230 incidents reported of officers being assaulted since 2019. Each of these incidents have the potential to have a long-lasting impact, both physically and mentally, on the individual.

 “Despite this, they continue to do their job, serve their community and keep people safe. Police officers should never be taken for granted, they do a vital job and whilst we come to work knowing we could be faced with difficult and dangerous situations, it is completely unacceptable that we should be physically attacked.

“Our priority is the safety and welfare of all our staff and to ensure support is available when it’s needed.

“Assaults on police pose a serious threat to the vital service police provide and we will continue work with the Police Federation for Northern Ireland to support our officers.

“Our message to those who think this behaviour is acceptable, it is not; it should not be seen as ‘part of the job’ and we will pursue those individuals and bring them before the courts.”

The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), Liam Kelly, said: “Assaults on our officers and staff are totally unacceptable and take a heavy toll on our men and women.

“We are not society’s punch bag or a release valve for those who seek to impose themselves and harm and intimidate others. 

“The rate of assaults on officers is worryingly high with official crime statistics recording a total of 3,272 assaults in 2022/2023 of which 971 involved injury.  

“This equates to a rise of 7.6% from the previous year in the injury category. There is also an element of internal under reporting so the real levels could be significantly worse.

“Stronger, no-nonsense sentences handed down by the Courts would greatly assist to deter would-be attackers.

“We would appeal to the Justice Minister to move at pace on increased sentencing guidelines in support of both our officers and our emergency service partners. 

“Our officers do not deserve to be targeted in this manner for simply doing their job. They work tirelessly on behalf of this entire community and any assault on them should be viewed as an assault on society overall.”

Full Police Recorded Crime in Northern Ireland 1998-99 to 2022-23 figures available at:

Police Recorded Crime Statistics | PSNI

Stats – with and without injury from 1st April 2022-31st March 2023.

  • 2022/23 – 3272
  • 2021/22 – 3,401
  • 2020/21 – 3,109
  • 2019/20 – 2,829
  • 2018/19 – 2,709.

Justice Minister condemns attacks on police officers

Justice Minister Naomi Long has condemned attacks on police officers following statistics released by the PSNI today.

The statistics show that in the last five years an average of eight police officers per day have been attacked.

The Minister said: “Attacks on police officers, indeed attacks on any public servant, are totally unacceptable. 

“Everyone deserves to be able to carry out their duties without fear of attack or reprisal and those who carry out such attacks should feel the full force of the law being brought down upon them.

“That is why I intend to bring forward new legislation to reform the law on sentencing by increasing the maximum sentence for such attacks and making serious assaults on front line workers a statutory aggravating factor.”

Commenting on the impact such attacks have on PSNI officers, the Minister said: “The testimonies from officers clearly demonstrate the impact that assaults and attacks have on officers and their families, both physically and mentally.

“I would like to place on record my appreciation to police officers and police staff for the critical role they play in keeping everyone in society safe and protected.” 

If you have information on any crime please contact the police or the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.