Government act on police assaults as fresh details on the Cleveleys stabbing emerge

Forensics experts were seen in Westmorland Avenue after Wednesday's attack
Forensics experts were seen in Westmorland Avenue after Wednesday's attack

Assaults on on-duty police officers will be recorded under a new crime classification from next year.

Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on officer safety, which came hours after one was stabbed in a frenzied and unprovoked attack in Cleveleys, Policing Minister Brandon Lewis said the new reports would help paint a more accurate picture of violence against police.

He said: “Creating this new crime classification is an important step in providing a more complete picture of assaults experienced by police officers. This additional information will help chief officers to understand what is happening in the execution of their duty.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott added: “All assaults on police are unacceptable. The sad thing is there is no clear reliable evidence on the number of assaults on police as the data is still recorded in a haphazard and unreliable fashion. It is urgent that the government collect proper statistics so we are clear about the extent of the problem.

“To address the problem it is first necessary to correctly identify it.”

More details on Wednesday’s attack, which happened at around 10pm in Westmorland Avenue, also came to light yesterday.

It was revealed the 47-year-old Immediate Response Team officer from Fleetwood had pulled a white Peugeot van over after believing its driver to be a missing person.

He was then subjected to several knife blows by the motorist, though the majority failed to penetrate his stab vest, which police credit with saving the officer’s life.

The attacker fled in his van after being challenged by neighbours, who interrupted the vicious assault, which saw the officer airlifted to Preston hospital with serious injuries.

He is now said to be recovering well at home.

William Ashton, 39, was later arrested in the car park of gymetc, off Garstang Road in Poulton, on suspicion of attempted murder. He was detained under the Mental Health Act, and is now in a secure unit, police added.