A policeman stabbed outside a railway station is the latest example of an “epidemic” of “senseless acts of violence” against officers, a senior official has said.
The British Transport Police (BTP) officer was fortunate that colleagues were nearby to restrain his attacker, BTP Federation chairman Nigel Goodband said.
“I wouldn’t like to have imagined what could have happened if those colleagues weren’t in close proximity”, he said.
The force said the officer was approached by the suspect and attacked with a knife outside Ilford Station, east London, at around 9.45pm on Friday night.
He was taken to hospital for treatment and discharged on Saturday to recover at his home.
A man has been arrested over the incident, BTP said.
Mr Goodband told the Press Association: “I’m told it was totally unprovoked.
“It’s shocking – knife crime and the wider epidemic of attacking police officers is a real concern to us all.
“We’re witnessing this too often now, it seems certain elements of society see it as acceptable to attack police officers.
“We are now seeing senseless acts of violence against those who are there to protect society.”
Witnesses described seeing the bloodied officer outside the station as it was put on “complete lockdown”.
One tweeted: “At Ilford station… just come outside and all I see is someone on the floor, blood and police.”
Footage on social media showed a man being restrained on the floor as more officers arrived.
Counter-terrorism police are not involved at this stage, it is understood.
One woman, who lives in the area and wished to remain anonymous, said officers on horseback had been patrolling outside the station over the past week and described the area as a hotbed for drug dealers.
Another woman, who also declined to be named, said there was a large police presence outside the station on Friday afternoon after 4.30pm, and that she had seen police taking away “four or five people” in cars.
Scotland Yard said one person had been arrested for drug possession outside the station on Friday evening.
Following recent widespread video footage showing an officer being kicked into a road, close to the path of a bus, Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh called for officers to be given greater support.
He previously warned of a “breakdown in society” after two officers were attacked as they tried to apprehend a suspect in Hackney.
Mr Marsh sent his best wishes to the injured officer, saying: “He’s one of our own, it doesn’t matter if you’re BTP or Met or whatever.
“My heart and feelings go out to him and his family – we don’t want any of our colleagues not coming home.”
Mr Goodband said he had taken encouragement from a wide outpouring of goodwill and messages of support for the officer and stressed those using violence were minority elements of society.
Meanwhile, a murder investigation was launched after a man in his 20s was knifed to death in east London early on Saturday morning.
Emergency services were called to Kingsland Road in Hackney at around 6.30am, but despite the efforts of medical staff, the victim died in hospital several hours later.
No arrests have been made and a crime scene with road closures remain in place, Scotland Yard said.
The killing takes the total number of homicides in the capital so far this year to 121.