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PC's podcast reveals impact of assaults on officers

A PC has created a podcast to highlight the impact of being assaulted on the job.

Cambridgeshire PC Leo Clarke has shared what happened to him after an attack left him with a bleed on the brain.

PC Clarke needed surgery and spent almost a week in hospital after he was punched in the head last February – only returning to work on restricted duties 10 months later in December.

In the episode ‘Not part of the job’ released today (9 August) he reveals what happened to him at a house in Peterborough just before 5pm on February 8 last year.

He was sent to the city after a man became violent towards members of his own family.

The man, in his 20s, had missed a psychiatric appointment at Peterborough City Hospital that morning.

He reacted angrily when PC Clarke activated his body worn video camera – and soon after grabbed and punched the officer to the head.

PC Clarke tells of the moment he realised things were not as OK first thought. He said: “Afterwards I got back to the station and went to get up out the car, but then thought something really isn’t right.

“I walked up the stairs to the response office in Thorpe Wood and remember having to hold on to the handrail thinking: ‘This isn’t good, it wasn’t just a punch’.

“I went into the office and my skipper’s look alone worried me. I spoke in gibberish apparently, and it was at that point they realised I needed to go to hospital.”

He was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery.

PC Clarke said: “The doctors told me it was a bleed on the brain and left unchecked, it could cause a lot of damage. Luckily my skipper and colleagues saw something was wrong and got me to hospital early, that has helped me get back to how I am now.”

He spent months recovering – and reveals the impact the assault had on his family:  “When I was released from hospital, they took the bandaging off my head and this was the first time I saw the extent of the surgery. The photos still hit home when I see them.

“My dad and girlfriend picked me up, I think he was crying more than she was. It was a long process of getting back to normal, but I got lucky and recovered in quite a short period of time.”

The man who assaulted him was arrested and later handed one year and eight months in jail in April last year after admitting causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) without intent.

More than a year on from the attack, the officer has now returned to response shifts on the front line.

Chiefs, Federation leaders and Police and Crime Commissioners are all raising concern over the number of mental-health related incidents that response teams deal with which they say are not part of policing – and officers are not trained to deal with as specialists.

PC Clarke said the people who they visit need to be reassured that they are not in trouble.

He said: “As the police we do a lot of jobs now, including mental health related ones. We’ve had to adapt as every service is stretched; for us it’s not just locking up bad guys anymore.

“One of the main things for police is life and limb – making sure everyone is OK. If we turn up, it doesn’t always mean you’re in trouble so don’t instantly worry and don’t take your anger out on us.

“We’ve got families as well we want to go home to, so it’s not fair. It might not be an ambulance turning up like you want, but we will get to where you need to and do our best to help you.”

Chief Constable Nick Dean said assaults upon police officers and staff would never be tolerated and were not simply ‘part of the job’.

He added: “I’m glad he has felt able to share what happened to him in our new podcast series, and I hope his story brings home the reality of the work police officers do on a daily basis to protect others.

“It should be remembered that police officers and staff are people, they are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. When they are attacked they become victims just like any other, but victims who have been attacked while trying to protect others.”

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