"ATTACKING an officer should always mean jail time" – that's the view of some members of the public who have spoken out after yet another incident in which police officers were assaulted.

Police were attacked during a brawl involving more than 100 people at the weekend, and this comes as the number of assaults on officers is on the rise.

Between April and June this year there were 168 offences of violence reported against West Mercia Police officers, 53 of which resulted in injury.

West Mercia has experienced a 10 per cent increase in incidents involving on duty officers, averaging two every day. National figures from the Police Federation show an officer is assaulted every four minutes.

On Saturday officers from West Mercia’s Local Policing Priority Team South received a ‘red call’ to provide back up in Hereford.

A team spokesman said: “They were confronted with a disorder involving 100 plus people where officers were being assaulted. A number of arrests were made and vital body worn footage captured.”

Now, some members of the public are calling for automatic prison sentences for anyone who assaults a police officer or other emergency workers.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion has also lobbied for tougher deterrent sentences to reduce attacks.

Last week, Chloe Milton, who assaulted police officers in Worcester, had her community order revoked rather than being given a prison sentence, despite her not bothering to attend her probation appointment imposed as part of her punishment.

Mr Campion said: “Nobody should be assaulted for simply doing their job, least of all the staff and officers in our emergency services, whose sole focus is to keep us safe. The vast majority of our communities value and respect this work, but there remains a small minority who, for some reason, clearly do not.

“Our emergency service workers are ordinary people who wear a uniform and do extraordinary work every day.”

Mr Campion’s Behind the Badge campaign aims to highlight the damage caused by violence against emergency workers, including the significant physical injuries, psychological trauma, and impact on wider families and friends.

Mr Campion added: “I have successfully lobbied Government for tougher sentences for people who attack emergency workers and animals. I have also invested in body worn video equipment for every frontline police officer and Special Constable, as a means of preventing attacks and capturing vital evidence when they do occur.”

Although Mr Campion said this was positive progress he believes more work is needed, calling for a joined up debate about the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse.

He added: “Sentences in court need to provide effective deterrents and consequences. Rehabilitation programmes need to be effective and better funded to deal with the underlying problem. Licensed premises selling alcohol need to be well managed and held to account by local councils.

“Police officer numbers are growing, with investment locally and from Government. I, like the vast majority of the community, want our police catching criminals and protecting the vulnerable, not having to deal with those that want to fight the police and should know better.”

South Worcestershire Local Policing Commander, Supt Damian Pettit said: “We have invested heavily into body worn cameras for our officers in recent years. All front-line officers across West Mercia now have body worn cameras attached to their uniform.

“They are used to capture video and audio evidence, in order to support vulnerable victims, help secure convictions in court and demonstrate transparency.

“We have found that the impact of using body worn cameras has been positive and can in itself help to de-escalate incidents. None of our officers, or any emergency service worker, should get assaulted for doing their job. They are trying to do the best they can to protect the communities they serve.”

Chloe Milton accepted she had failed to comply with the requirements of her community order, imposed to punish her for assaulting police officers, when she appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court on Friday.

We reported in April how the mother-of-four scratched her nails into an officer’s forearms, kicked out and threatened to headbutt police. A second order was then imposed in September as the first had not proved workable.

Milton admitted assaulting police officers at around 7pm on March 5.

She was given a 12-month community order to include 40 rehabilitation activity days, and told to pay compensation of £50 each to the officers – a total of £100.

Milton threatened to headbutt the officers before scraping her nails into the officer’s forearms, and kicking one of them in the shins.

The 26-year-old of St George’s Lane North, Worcester, accepted she had failed without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirements of a community order imposed on September 29 this year.

Milton failed to turn up to her first appointment on October 11.

Michael Weston, prosecuting on behalf of the probation service, said of the original offence: “It was a case where her and her boyfriend were arguing. Police were called. She resisted and the officer received a scratched wrist.”

Mr Weston said Milton suffered from PTSD, bipolar disorder and anxiety.

“When she gets angry and frustrated she blacks out and can’t remember her actions. She can’t even remember resisting the officers let alone assaulting one,” he said.

He argued that a suspended sentence order was not appropriate in this case and said the existing order should continue but only if she wanted to comply with it and the order was of benefit to her.

If the order was not of benefit to her, he suggested it be revoked.

“It was a relatively minor offence and it was some time ago. There was no significant injury,” said Mr Weston.

The chairman of the magistrates bench, Keith Stokes-Smith, said he was ‘surprised’ she was not punished for an assault on a police officer and instead given 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days as part of the original sentence.

He said: “From what we understand, you’re not making enough effort or bothering to get that help.”

Milton broke down in tears and told magistrates: “I’ve got a lot going on in my life.”

However, Mr Stokes-Smith said of the rehabilitation activity requirement days: “This is there to help you with your life.”

Milton explained she had split up with her partner and had suffered domestic abuse, telling the magistrates: “I’m trying to cope with everything.”

She said her children were her priority. “It’s a vicious circle” she said as she was given a tissue by an usher.

Magistrates revoked the community order and sentenced Milton to a 12-month conditional discharge instead.

Mr Stokes-Smith said sadly they had to withdraw the order.

“We will never know what benefit you would have got from it,” he said.

“I do try and keep myself away from trouble” she said.

“We wish you well in all the matters you’re dealing with,” said Mr Stokes-Smith.

READERS' SURVEY: Should there be an automatic jail term for attacking police officers?

Maxine Harris from Fernhill Heath, said: “The sentence should be dependent on the circumstance of each attack and there is no reason why someone should go to jail for it.

“This is because jail is too expensive and ineffective in punishing the guilty party.

“There should instead be a less harsh sentence such as community service.”

Holly Cook, 21, from St John’s, said: "People who attack police officers should be sent to jail.

“The police are trying to do their job of protecting people and must not be attacked.

“Policemen should not be disrespected as their job is to do good in the community.”

Kevin Howmans, 59, from Evesham, said: “Attacking an officer should always mean jail time.

“Anyone in a uniform should be respected and because their role is to keep the peace, it is certainly a crime to attack a police officer.

“Although a court should hear each case, the circumstances of the offence should only dictate how long the guilty party should spend in jail.

“The law should state that this offence will always result in jail time.”

Adam Spindler, 22, said: “I am unsure if people who attack police officers should be automatically sent to jail.

“The offence is a very serious crime, but it is up to the courts to decide if the attacker is guilty.

“The punishment for attacking a police officer should be to go to jail but this should not be automatic in every single case.”