A statement I wrote of a relatively common event that caused me a little concern at the time and one that officers have to face every night somewhere in a village / town / city near you. We simply ask this is not treated as an occupational hazard. I have kept exactly as was the statement I read in court but have disguised the names of those involved.
Sgt Harry Trevithick TANGYE 13908 –
I am a police sergeant in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary currently stationed at Exeter Armed Response Unit at Middlemoor, Exeter. I was working a night shift single crewed starting at 10.00pm on Saturday 22nd August 2015. I carry weapons within ######## in the vehicle and I carry a Taser along with pepper spray and other protection equipment. I have been in the police on front line duties working shifts for the past 25 years and I have been in the Armed response unit for the past 17 years or so. I am an Operations Firearms Commander, a Firearms Tactics Advisor, I am a pursuit tactics advisor, an advanced driver, a VIP protection officer and back up driver, I am a senior investigating officer of serious and fatal road traffic collisions.
At 12.40am on the morning of Sunday 23rd August 2015 I was single crewed in Exeter when I received a call from control room asking me to attend the ######### where there was a disturbance reported. This was next to ####### or is part of the same premises.
I arrived at the location 20 minutes later and as I drove into the car park, everything seemed very quiet. I felt the incident that had been taking place had obviously finished but I could see some heads of some people over what looked like pallets towards a house. I drove around and asked some people whether there had been a disturbance. A young male in a dark T-Shirt and wavy hair told me there had been some trouble but it had all finished now. I glanced around noting that everyone seemed quite drunk but also quite relaxed and there didn’t seem to be any issues. I went over to the front door and asked someone who seemed to be quite sober whether I could speak to the owner. This gentlemen was tall, about 35 to 40 years old and 5’9” tall, of slim build. He may have been the DJ I understand later. He offered me into the house and said the owner was at the rear of the house.
I asked if I they could be called or I could go in, just to make sure all was okay. He, and some others stepped aside. There was a very drunk male quite near me slurring his speech. I cannot remember what he was saying but he drew attention to himself as the others seemed to be quiet and relaxed. I walked into the lounge area and spoke to a woman who identified herself to me as the tenant of the house. She was white European, about 5’9” tall of slim build wearing a beige woollen top or dress. She had blonde hair and was in her 30’s. She was quite well spoken and looked nervous. She said, “WELL SOME OF THE PEOPLE HERE WON’T LEAVE AND I WANT THEM TO.” Her face looked strained and she looked very stressed.
I quietly asked her which ones she wanted to leave, and she replied, pointing at the drunk youth who had been drawing attention to himself and some others around him. ‘THEY ARE THE ONES, I NEED THEM TO LEAVE’ she said quietly.
With that, the drunk youth who I now know is called P######## dob ####### shouted in my face, “HEY COPPER, YOU ARE THE P###K WITH THE WHITE HAT AREN’T YOU?”. He was white European, He had a red T-Shirt and was of medium build with black wavy hair in his 20’s.
I put my hands on each of his shoulders and turned him around so he was facing the door, and with both hands remaining there, walked him out saying, “AND YOU SIR, ARE NOW LEAVING”.
As he got outside the others around him were also outside around the door so my plan was to remain at the door stopping anyone coming in until some back up had arrived. He remained outside for a few seconds and then obviously got a little courage in front of his friends and walked up to me and began continuing his aggressive manner. “YOU ARE THAT P##K WITH THE WHITE HAT AREN’T YOU, YOU F###ING C####”.
At this point I told him he had to leave, and I took hold of him and firmly told him, “THAT, YOUNG MAN IS ENOUGH OF THAT BEHAVIOUR, YOU NEED TO LEAVE NOW OR WHEN THE VAN ARRIVES HERE, YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO BE ARRESTED FOR A PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCE”
I felt this was a reasonable appeal to him explaining the law and that it was not acceptable. I was using my officers presence and communications skills as I felt it was clear that the more I allowed him to use this aggressive manner towards me, the more the others around him would gain confidence to join in. Some of the youths around him were indeed starting to join in, saying, “HE CAN’T DO THAT, DON’T LET HIM PUSH YOU AROUND.”
I was using Section 3 of the criminal law Act which permits me to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, and indeed Common Law also. At this time I was using open hands, and then taking hold of him and very much guiding him away using primary control skills. No force was required but he then came back again and I had to repeat this which is when he grabbed hold of me with his hands and pulled me towards him calling me a ‘F####ING C###’. I grappled with him as he had progressed from using active resistance by pulling away, and pushing to using aggressive and assaultive resistance, by trying to pull me to the ground. I realised by now I was in trouble.
There was a lot of men, approximately 10, fuelled with alcohol and I realised for just a few times in my career that these people could, and knew, that they could do what they liked to me and I was unlikely to know who had done what. It was dark, and the ground was slippery with mud. I realised that rather him take me to the ground and me be defenceless, I would use my defensive and offensive skills by using a take down on him. He was strong and I tried to use a leg swipe to trip him up, but couldn’t get my leg far enough around so I kicked him in the shin as a distraction and whilst he had me pinned close to him, the only manoeuvre I could use was to get my arm over his head and pull him over my hip by wrapping my arm around his neck.
He went over my hip and hit the ground and I was pulled on top of him. I tried to reach for my radio but I couldn’t free my hand from trying to restrain him on the ground. He was shouting at me saying “I’M GOING TO F####ING KILL YOU” or words to that effect.
I was too busy expecting a kick from behind to my head as the crowd of about 10 youths were now shouting and trying to pull me away. I was in great fear for my safety at this stage and I was extremely relieved to find PC ##### the dog handler arrive and shout at the youths to get back. At this point, another youth who I now understand his name is L####, dob ###### clamped his body around the head of P### who I was trying to handcuff but he was obstructing me from doing so saying to P### ‘DON’T WORRY MATE, I’M NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU’
I repeatedly told L### he was obstructing a police officer in the lawful execution of his duty, but he continued, repeating he wasn’t going to let go of him. This caused major problems to me and PC #### as we couldn’t safely detain P### whilst L#### was stopping us by obstructing us.
Whilst this was going on, a very large man in build but quite short in height that I now know as S###### DOB #### was becoming more and more aggressive towards me shouting at the top of his voice, looking directly down at me and aggressively gesticulating to me, saying, “I’VE GOING TO F###ING DO YOUR FACE, LET HIM GO OR I’LL F### YOUR FACE RIGHT UP” He repeated this numerous times and I really felt we were in problems as we were trying to prevent L#### and P#### from assaulting us or getting away, and fearing for the baying crowd behind us from assaulting us. I felt very vulnerable.
With the assistance of PC ###, I managed to get the hand cuffs on P### but he was trying to bring his knees up to strike me, so he was still a handful. I constantly felt people grabbing me and trying to pull me away, and I was waiting for a kick to my head. I had my hand on my Taser in my pouch on several occasions but I knew that if I was to use it or threaten to use it, it could easily be taken off me and used against myself so I decided to risk not using it. The same went for my pepper spray which again I decided was not safe to use.
I was aware that an urgent assistance call had been put up. I did press my urgent assistance button but I was aware that I may not have pressed it long enough for it to activate. I later found it hadn’t so I was pleased that PC ### had done so. My radio was hanging off my QRV vest, and my ear piece was hanging around me so I had little idea whether help was on the way. I was very grateful for PC ### being there to assist me.
At about 1.10am that day with other officers arriving to assist, I shouted to P#### that he was under arrest for assaulting police and to L#### that he was under arrest for obstructing police in the lawful execution of their duty. I cautioned them and P#### replied, “YOU F###ING DICK, I’M GOING TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU LIVE, I’M GOING TO BURN YOUR F###ING HOUSE DOWN YOU F###ING C###”. I informed them they were arrested in order to prevent any further injury to themselves or others.
Other units soon arrived and helped control people. In the aftermath with officers taking control of my prisoners, I found the large male S#### still shouting threats saying he was going to ‘Do Me’ so I informed him I was arresting him for Section 4 of the public order act. I cautioned him and informed him that I was arresting him to prevent any further injury to myself or another. He replied, “OK, OK”. I then spent the next 10 minutes with him whilst other officers arrived to maintain some order. At this time he became very apologetic saying this wasn’t necessary. I loosened his cuffs and double locked them to make them more comfortable for him as well as putting his hands in front of him.
A couple of minutes later, I informed them they were all arrested for Affray and that they were still under caution and the same conditions applied.
Even though I was not able to press my emergency urgent assistance button on my radio, I attempted to. I have only pressed this twice in my 25 year career. I felt this was a situation where myself and PC #### were likely to receive major injuries, and I was extremely grateful for other officers arrival. It was obvious there was no respect for the police at all, and it was obvious there was no hesitation of laying hands on and trying to free their colleague and to threaten and assault police officers. This, unfortunately seems to be more and more common.
My uniform is a mess! I have mud everywhere and have received some slight cuts to my shins and knees which will soon heal. I feel battered black and blue and will no doubt ache in the morning however have no significant injuries.
I am aware of at least two other males who were a constant threat to me and PC ####. They were threatening and trying to pull us off their friends. I cannot really describe these.
Mr S### and Mr P### were fined. Mr L### was given a conditional discharge. I attended court on 5 separate occasions which meant officers were brought in to cover my night shifts from their rest days. This is common and causes even more stress to resources.