ASSAULTS on police officers in Essex have almost doubled.

638 offences were recorded last year, up from 332.

Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson, of Essex Police, said: “Policing can be a risky and at times dangerous job.

“Our officers and staff are often asked to deal with people in volatile situations.

“The public expect us to step forward and deal with such situations; it is a reality we all accepted when we joined.

“However, we do not tolerate assaults on our staff and will always seek to prosecute if there is evidence to do so.”

The last time figures climbed so high Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, brought the isue to the attention of the Home Secretary who raised it in the House of Commons.

Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex Police Federation, said: “I don’t know why some people wouldn’t think twice about assaulting a police officer.

“Maybe there is less respect, maybe people know there are fewer officers and less back-up, may be there is more violence.

“But whatever the reason it is worrying.

“The punishments for assaulting officers are there.

“The Crown Prosecution Service need to run these cases and the courts need to use the powers to send out a message it is not acceptable.”