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Hampshire Police Federation

Renewed calls for assaults on officers to be taken seriously

19 March 2019

A thug who walked free from court after repeatedly kicking and punching an officer on the floor before assaulting his colleague has sparked calls for the criminal justice system to end lenient punishments.

Last year, PC Paul Headen and PC Oliver Green were called to an address after Mark Watson attacked his mother.

The pair made attempts to detain Watson but he resisted, hitting PC Green multiple times before pinning him to the floor, kicking him in the groin and then punching him in the face. He was left with a black eye.

PC Headen was also assaulted, but by drawing his Taser he managed to create space between them before making an arrest - but Watson ran away with his handcuffs still attached and was not located for almost a month.

PC Headen walked away with minor bruising.

Watson of Sarum Hill, Kings Furlong, was charged with two counts of assault by beating, one count of actually bodily harm and escaping lawful custody.

On 31 January this year he was sentenced to just six months in prison suspended for 18 months at Winchester Crown Court - despite The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act being enshrined in law in November and doubling the maximum sentence for these cowardly and despicable acts from six to 12 months.

The officers have received no compensation and are said to feel incredibly let down by the system, whilst the Hampshire Police Federation has considered an appeal, but it appears the threshold will be too high.

Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge, said: “Police officers in Hampshire want to see justice and it is clear that these assaults are not being treated with the seriousness they should be.

“Offenders will still face no deterrent unless magistrates and the criminal justice system take the issue of assaults seriously.

“The recent success in introducing the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill gave us hope that the judicial system would start to take violence against emergency workers more sternly.

“Whilst we didn’t get everything that we wanted in this bill, it is a start and a significant improvement on what we had.

“Sadly the message doesn’t seem to have got through and we continue to see perverse, weak and unacceptable sentences for those who assault officers across our county.

“We need to end the practice of offenders being under-charged and given no more than a slap on the wrist. Until then, officers will continue to feel under-valued with criminals laughing in the face of justice.”

Our latest welfare survey revealed 20% of Hampshire Constabulary officers who participated in the research suffered one or more injuries that required medical attention as a result of work-related violence in the last year – losing more than 484 days in sickness absence.

The Police Federation of England and Wales’ Protect The Protectors campaign was launched at Parliament in February 2017 in connection with a Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced by Halifax MP Holly Lynch. She had joined PC Craig Gallant on patrol in West Yorkshire in summer 2016 and had dialled 999 after witnessing the single-crewed officer being surrounded by a hostile crowd.

The General Election brought the Bill to a premature end, but Labour MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant, picked up the baton.

The campaign also benefitted from the backing of the Prisoner Officers’ Association and British Transport Police Federation as partners.