LANCASHIRE’S top police officer has spoken out against assaults on his staff.

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes wrote a victim impact statement which was presented to a district judge sentencing a Blackburn man for police assault.

He revealed that in 2017 there were 288 assaults on officers and staff which resulted in 581 days of sick leave.

“The impact on the community is that it limits the service that we are able to provide,” said Mr Rhodes.

“The police are there to help people in need but are often prevented from doing so by people who attack them.

“It is not acceptable to assume that assaults on police officers should be tolerated, they are not ‘part of the job’.”

He said his officers were expected to handle difficult and dangerous situations but every time one was assaulted there was potential sickness absence which impacted on the effectiveness of the force and its role in the community.

Andrew James Galbraith, 46, of Hollin Bridge Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to police assault and racially aggravated threatening behaviour towards two officers.

He was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 15-day rehabilitation and nine-month alcohol treatment courses.

He was also told to pay £150 compensation to both of the officers, £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said PCs Mo Emam and Scott Blackshaw attended a report of a man causing trouble in The Postal Order, Darwen Street, Blackburn.

He had left when they arrived but before he went said: “When the cops turn up I will give them a slap too.”

The officers found him in a nearby pub and he was immediately rude and abusive. He racially abused PC Emam and spat at both officers.

As he was being arrested he tried to gouge PC Blackshaw’s eyes forcing the officer to punch him in the face to stop the attack.

He was parva-sprayed and handcuffed before being placed in a secure van.

He continued to be abusive and make racist comments at the custody suite.

Graeme Parkinson, defending, said his client was extremely apologetic. “It was exclusively due to his alcohol consumption that he behaved in this way and he knows it is totally unacceptable,” said Mr Parkinson.

“He does not consider himself to be racist but accepts the things he said on the day were nasty.

“The victim impact statement prepared by the Chief Constable has clearly been prepared to cover a number of cases,” said Mr Parkinson.

“The points he makes are valid ones.”

This is the second time Mr Rhodes has defended his officers publicly in recent weeks.

In August, he spoke out in support of a police officer after video footage emerged of a 14-year-old girl being slapped as police tried to restrain her following a fight in Accrington.

In a bid to tackle attacks on police officers and other emergency service workers, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill will be passed into law this autumn.

Under it, the fact that assaults are committed against emergency workers will be taken into account when sentencing offenders, potentially leading to tougher sentences.

Lancashire Police Federation chairman, Rachel Hanley, said: “One assault against a police officer is one too many. It is not part of the job.

“It is absolutely right that the new Bill is passed into law later this year.

“We need the support of the judicial system to ensure that offences against those that are entrusted with the safety of our communities, are themselves protected from violent individuals.”