A WEST mercia police officer has bravely spoken out after she was punched in the face several times leaving her with a black eye.

Rachel Alcock assaulted after being called to an incident involving a man who was suffering with mental health issues on May 15

Miss Alcock said: “On arrival, it was clear that he was suffering with paranoia. Communication was extremely difficult and he admitted to not taking his medication for psychosis. I believe he required an assessment and posed a risk to himself. The ambulance staff present were in agreement too.

“After lengthy negotiations with the man, we assisted the ambulance crew who detained him due to his lack of capacity and escorted them to the mental health suite.

“When we arrived there, he became agitated and wanted to leave, which he did, despite our best efforts.

“We caught up with him and had no option but to detain him under the S136 Mental Health Act. He tried to leave and run away from us and headed for a nearby main road.

"As we tried to restrain him, he became physically aggressive, throwing a number of punches at us making contact with our faces, as well as pulling both mine and my colleague’s hair.

“We managed to detain him on the floor and handcuffed him but he continued to kick out. I requested assistance and we continued to detain him until other officers arrived. In the end, we got control of the situation using emergency restraint belts to prevent any injury to himself or other officers.”

The police officer based in Evesham was taken to the A&E department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital by a colleague to treat the injuries she sustained from the assault.

Miss Alcock said: “I was seen by a doctor and a consultant and with substantial swelling to my right eye and cheek bone and bruising appearing, they suspected I had a fracture and I was sent for an x-ray.”

“There was no fracture but, a few days later, I had a black eye with bruising down the left-hand side of my cheek and underneath my jaw on my neck.

“It was painful at the time and due to the swelling to my eye, I had to take a couple of days off.

“Since going back out on the street, members of the public have asked me about my injury. There is a general consensus of the public showing concern that officers are being assaulted and worry that this may not be going through the usual court process, due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

“From my experience in the job, I am aware that these situations happen and have been involved in violent and aggressive incidents previously, including one time when I was punched under the jaw.

“I have no doubt this sort of situation will arise again in the future too.

"The man who assaulted me was seen by the mental health team and I understand he was sectioned,” she said, “Because he was sectioned and deemed not to have capacity, no criminal action will take place against him, as far as I am aware.”

New figures show that in 2018/19 there were 538 assaults on West Mercia front-line officers, including Special Constables and PCSOs, with the figure for 2019/20 rising to 659. In the first three months of this year, one in fifteen police officers were assaulted.

Sarah Cooper, chair of West Mercia Police Federation, has already raised concerns about the number of officers being assaulted in the line of duty at a strategic level.

She explains: “It can never be accepted that an officer comes to work, to serve the public and gets attacked doing so,” says Sarah, “It is even more worrying, at a time when police officers are on the front-line protecting communities and the NHS from a deadly virus, that some people think it is OK to attack, spit at and cough in the face of brave emergency service workers.

“Nobody should have to put up with being assaulted during a day’s work. It is only right that the people who carry out these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice. Unfortunately, all too often, the feedback I am getting is that charging decisions and sentences at court are woefully lenient.

“In my view, a strong message needs to be sent out through the criminal justice system that these offences against our officers will not be tolerated. Currently, officers are often left feeling unsupported and let down by a system that does not appear to treat these offences seriously enough.

“We also need to understand and address the significant number of officers who are attacked by individuals suffering mental health crisis. Unfortunately, it would appear that the police are, once again, taking the brunt of other under resourced public sector services and this is not acceptable, particularly when colleagues are being injured in the process.

“It is apparent that a review is needed in relation to the role of police and the use of powers in these mental health situations. Incidents such as this should not be occurring, yet they are all too common.”