Forty two police officers in Reading were assaulted in the first half of 2019, including 16 spitting incidents.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) Chief Constable John Campbell revealed the figures at Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy committee on Thursday (September 26).

The figures predate the death of PC Andrew Harper, who was killed last month while responding to reports of a burglary.

Chief Constable Campbell highlighted the death of PC Andrew Harper as “an extreme example” of the threats police officers face to their wellbeing.

He said: “I put this slide in prior to the death of PC Andrew Harper.

“If ever we wanted an example of what some of our police officers face in terms of threats to their wellbeing, Andrew Harper is a tragic and very extreme example of that.

“We accept within policing that policing can sometimes be a physical role and we acknowledge that police officers will be assaulted because that is the nature of some of the people we deal with.”

404 officers have been assaulted in the Thames Valley area in 2019 so far with just under 10 per cent of incidents occurring in Reading.

129 of those incidents involved officers being spat on, with more than ten per cent of those incidents occurring in Reading.

17 of the 129 officers spat at were exposed to blood-borne viruses as a result, according to the report.

Councillors paid tribute to the force at the meeting, thanking them for “putting bodies on the line”.

Councillor Tony Jones, lead member for Adult Social Care, said: “I do not believe it should take some recent tragic events for us to be able to pay tribute to you and your colleagues.

“Thank you for literally putting your bodies on the line for us 24/7, every day of the year.

Councillor Jeanette Skeats, leader of the Conservative group, said: “We know you put your lives on the line. I believe you are there for us and for our protection. It is not an easy job by any means.”