Hertfordshire Police has issued a warning to those who think it is acceptable to racially abuse or assault its police officers and staff.
The warning comes after a number of reported incidents in Hertfordshire.
Assistant Chief Constable Matt Nicholls, the force lead for equality, diversity, and inclusion, said: “Our officers work hard on the frontline, often in very challenging circumstances where they are expected to prioritise public safety above their own.
“To have to contend with racial abuse on a regular basis is completely unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take immediate action against anyone who behaves in this manner and
will always prosecute wherever possible.
“Many of the officers who have been abused in this way are relatively young in service and joined the police to protect the public and to proudly represent their communities.
"They are being assaulted and abused just for doing their job and this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.
"To racially abuse or assault anyone is a crime and that includes police officers.”
Some of the abuse that police officers have had to endure includes:
> An officer based in East Herts who has been with the Constabulary for less than two years, had in 2021 alone, been racially abused on three occasions and assaulted twice.
> An officer based in St Albans was assaulted and/or racially abused 15 times between 2019 and 2020.
> An officer based in Royston was patrolling his beat in 2020 and someone shouted racial abuse at him whilst he drove past.
> In March 2021, an officer based in Broxbourne was punched three times whilst arresting a man who was racially abusing him at the time.
One of the officers who has been racially abused shared his experience, he said: “I was on routine patrol in my local neighbourhood area, trying to support my community and deal with local issues reported by members of the public, when I was verbally abused.
"The incident left me feeling sad and confused as to why in this current day and age, a small proportion of people feel it’s acceptable to racially abuse anyone. This is completely unacceptable.
"As officers we do not and should not come to work and experience abuse based on the colour of our skin or other protected characteristics.”
Assistant Chief Constable Matt Nicholls added: “We take all allegations of racial abuse very seriously, as it is never acceptable, regardless of a person’s profession.
"We work very hard in Hertfordshire to encourage people to report race/hate crime and have specialist hate crime officers in post to facilitate this and offer specialist support.
"We offer our own staff the same service. No one should be targeted, and these offences should not go unreported, regardless of how big or small the incident may be.
“If you racially abuse or assault any police officer or member of police staff it will be logged as a crime and investigated accordingly. You could end up with a criminal record or even
serving a prison sentence.”
You can report information online or call 101. If you wish to speak to one of the force's specially trained hate crime officers please request this when contacting Hertfordshire Police.