The level of violence against police has increased in recent years, according to an organisation representing rank and file officers in England and Wales.
John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, told Sky News that his colleagues accepted that policing is dangerous but now some people “want to kick them when they are down and then kick them again”.
He was speaking on National Police Memorial Day, with an annual remembrance service planned to honour officers who have lost their lives on duty.
Among those being remembered will be Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was allegedly killed by a handcuffed suspect at Croydon Custody Centre in south London early on Friday.
Mr Apter said Sgt Ratana’s death was “heartbreaking and devastating news for the policing family and beyond”.
Speaking about violence against officers, he told Sky News: “What we’ve seen over the past few years is the level of violence which has increased. In the ‘old days’, if somebody wanted to escape arrest they’d assault a police officer and off they’d run.
“But now we seem to have people who will assault a police officer and then kick them when they are down and then kick them again.”
He added: “We are recording violence against my colleagues much better but we are a more violent society without a shadow of a doubt and my colleagues are on the frontline of that and unfortunately facing some of that violence.”
It comes as former policing minister Mike Penning said poor attitudes towards officers started with politicians, who he accused of “hampering and undermining normal police officers”.
“This lack of respect comes from the top, for me. It filters down from senior management and our politicians,” he wrote in The Sun.
“Simply, they are not backing officers.”
Mr Apter said policing in the “not too distant past” has been “vilified by some politicians” but we are “in a better place now”.
He went on: “Policing is an incredibly difficult job. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t sometimes and those [negative] narratives, whether it’s media, politicians or whoever, they play out on the street.
“My colleagues have to face that level of anger out on the street which sometimes turns to violence
“I accept we won’t always get things right but when you compare us to policing in other parts of the world the public are getting a good deal with their police. We are the best police service in the world.”
Mr Apter acknowledged that the silent majority support the police and pointed to a survey during the coronavirus crisis, which said 90% of the public think the policing style is about right.
The Police Federation represents more than 120,000 officers, from constable to chief inspector.