Following a spate of teenage attacks on police officers across the county, the chief of the Wiltshire Police Federation has called for a tough new line for dealing with young offenders – which could see them facing up to a year in prison.

After 10 officers were assaulted in three separate incidents which saw seven teenagers aged 13 to 16 arrested, federation chairman Phil Matthews wants to see young people involved in violence against the police no longer being let off with just a caution.

On Saturday, six officers were assaulted in an incident in Trowbridge which resulted in the arrests of five teens aged 13-16, three of them girls. In Chippenham a 16-year-old youth was arrested after a female officer was punched in the face and at Steeple Langford, near Warminster, 14-year-old boy was arrested after an officer was subjected to racial abuse at an incident at which three officers were assaulted by a woman.

The weekend of violence came on the heels of an incident in Westbury on January 16, when police had to issue an official 12-hour dispersal order to clear trouble-making teenagers after a gathering of youths from Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury resulted in an officer being punched and kicked by a girl.

Earlier on January 3 in Devizes police also had to issue a dispersal order to youths causing disorder in the centre of the town.

The assaults on police have been condemned by Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson, who said he is “thoroughly shocked” by the spate of attacks, and by Superintendent Ben Mant, head of Wiltshire Police’s Public Protection Department, who said: “that the majority of these assaults were carried out by teenagers is even more concerning”.

But now Sgt Phil Matthews, county chief of the powerful Police Federation, wants to see teenagers who assault police and other emergency workers no longer getting away with just a telling off.

“At present a caution is available as an outcome of such incidents. I would like to see a time where assaulting emergency workers removes the option for simple cautions and carries an outcome no less than a charge to court, whatever the age of the offender,” he said.

Following a law change in 2018, assault on an emergency worker carries a maximum penalty of 12 months prison or an unlimited fine.

Sgt Matthews said: “When I heard that so many officers being assaulted in the course of their duty I was appalled. Not only at the number of assaults but by those perpetrating them.

"These were mostly young teenagers with quite clearly no regard for the law at all. They demonstrated a total lack of respect for the officers and for the judicial system.

“To see our officers subject to such callous, and in some cases, very violent assaults is grossly unacceptable and should be dealt with in the severest way possible.

“Our officers showed incredible bravery and restraint in arresting these violent offenders and for that I commend them. No person in any job, including policing, should go to work expecting to be assaulted and this behaviour is abhorrent.

“During the exercise of their duty these officers were pushed, punched and kicked. Where is the moral compass in these offenders? What part of them thinks this is acceptable?.

“I must ask, are we robust enough in dealing with assaults on police? It isn’t long ago that the offence of assault emergency worker was placed in statute to replace the simple ‘assault police’ offence, this was supposed to demonstrate a reasonable and proportionate deterrent to offenders in showing firmer sentencing.

“I trust that Wiltshire Police will be thorough in their investigations and will remember that we are victim-led when considering the charging of the suspects of the assaults.”