Violent drunk forced thumbs into officer's eyes

09 November 2017

Sgt Simon Kempton

Sgt Simon Kempton

The Police Federation's deputy treasurer has reiterated his support for tougher sentences after he was assaulted on duty.

Sgt Simon Kempton was on patrol in Dorset, his force of 18 years, when he was subjected to a violent and sustained attack by a drunk driver. He said the incident in late October had further convinced him of the merits of the Federation's Protect the Protectors campaign, which seeks to make it an aggravated offence to assault an emergency services worker.

He said: “I was double-crewed with another officer in her first year of service. We were in an unmarked vehicle in a remote part of the county and saw a car that was being driven erratically and weaving all over the road."

They decided to follow it until back-up could arrive with breath test equipment. However, the driver stopped suddenly, got out and put his bonnet up.

Sgt Kempton continued: "I put our blue lights on so he knew we were police officers and got out to speak to him. I could see he was sweating and foaming at the mouth. When I touched his elbow and he jerked his arm away aggressively. I said he would be arrested for being drunk in charge of a vehicle and he went skyward.”

The offender picked up Sgt Kempton and threw him into brambles, before kicking him. They grappled on the floor and he forced his thumbs into the sergeant’s eyes. He also punched the female officer in the face and could not be stopped, even when the officers deployed PAVA.

The man got back into his car but the officers were able to prevent his escape by grabbing the keys out of the ignition. Sgt Kempton said the offender then “kicked his way out of the car”, and resumed his attack. At one stage he strayed into the path of an oncoming car and was pulled to safety by Sgt Kempton, who was punched repeatedly for his trouble.

Sgt Kempton said: “He wouldn’t listen to reason and was incredibly strong. The matter was only brought to a head by the arrival of another officer who announced he had a Taser – that made him surrender. If I’d had a Taser at my hip I don’t think we would have got hurt, it would have had a peaceful conclusion.”

He added that the incident had helped reinforce in his mind how necessary the Federation’s Protect the Protectors campaign is, in highlighting not only the need for tougher sentences to deter attacks on officers but also the need for essential kit like Taser, and the dangers of reduced police numbers.

He continued: “In years gone by I would have expected twice as many officers to turn up, in less time. It was the middle of nowhere and an attack that went on for 10 minutes. If I had been single-crewed I’d have got a proper kicking.”

Chairman of Dorset Police Federation, Tony Tester, paid tribute to the officers. “They put themselves in harm’s way and refused to let this person get away, despite the level of violence they were facing. If the offender had succeeded in driving off he could have seriously injured himself or a member of the public. This incident not only shows the heroism of our officers, but also how exposed and vulnerable we are. It was the middle of nowhere with only two officers present – the offender looked at the situation and decided it was worth his while trying to escape. Having fewer officers encourages this mind-set.”

The offender, who later turned out to be wanted for a number of offences, was jailed for four months.

A Private Members Bill seeking tougher sentences for assaults against the emergency services will be scrutinised by MPs on 15 November.