PSNI says 25 officers injured in 24-hour period across NI

A total of 25 police officers from across Northern Ireland have been injured while on duty during a 24-hour period this weekend.

The attacks on Saturday and Sunday included being kicked, punched, bitten and, in one case, a van being driven at an officer, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

The driver in that attack also used the van to repeatedly ram a police vehicle.

None of the officers were seriously hurt.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said the attacks were contemptible, adding: "No-one should be attacked for carrying out their day-to-day duties."

She added there are plans for new laws "to increase the maximum sentence for such attacks".

PSNI Supt Nigel Henry said such assaults on officers while they are "simply doing their job is not acceptable".

The ramming incident took place in a housing estate in Newry on Saturday night.

Shortly after 23:20 GMT, two officers approached a man in the Castlekeele Estate on the outskirts of the city.

The man then got into a white Peugeot van and when a police vehicle pulled up behind him, the driver reversed at speed and collided with the police vehicle a number of times, damaging the vehicle in the process.

'Dangerous and reprehensible'

One of the officers got out of their damaged vehicle and approached the van, at which point the driver drove towards that officer, forcing them to get out of the way.

The van driver then attempted to flee the scene on foot.

A 37-year-old man has been charged with a number of offences including dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and using a vehicle without insurance.

Supt Henry said that in Belfast alone 18 officers were injured during weekend duties.

In one incident in north Belfast, six officers were kicked and punched and a seventh officer was spat at while arresting a woman following a report of criminal damage.

In Banbridge, County Down, an officer was bitten by a man while he was being arrested.

"These are just some of the examples to highlight the risks our officers face every day," Supt Henry said.

"While thankfully no officers received any serious injuries and all were able to remain on duty, these assaults on our officers while simply doing their job is not acceptable."

He said attacks on police would be investigated "rigorously, just as we would were it a member of the public".

There have been eight arrests connected to the assaults on police.

This time last year, the PSNI reported that 43 officers had been assaulted in 30 separate incidents over the course of one week.