Leicestershire  Police Federation

Injured Police Officer Speaks Out On Appalling Sentence

30 May 2024


Injured Police Officer Speaks Out On Appalling Sentence


A Leicestershire Police officer who was badly injured when she was run over by a car has said she is “appalled” by the lenient sentence handed out to the offender.

PC Niamh Harriman was left with a sprained hip, cuts and grazes on her hands and face, a swollen ankle and foot and a large haematoma bruise on her thigh following the incident earlier this year.

On top of the pain and anxiety she suffered in the attack – and having to take three weeks off to recover - she has been left equally fuming after the perpetrator was let off with a suspended sentence.

It was in February this year, PC Harriman and her colleagues were tasked with removing children from a woman under section 46 of the Children Act 1989, as they were concerned for their safety.

The woman, who didn’t have a driving licence, attempted to drive off with one of her children. PC Harriman leant into the car through the open passenger door to try to get the car keys, but the woman started the engine, put her foot on the reverse pedal and drove over the officer’s foot.

PC Harriman was knocked to the ground by the car door, went under the door and then the woman reversed over her thigh.

The woman kept reversing the car until she crashed into another vehicle, at which point PC Harriman’s colleagues arrested her for dangerous driving and assault on an emergency worker.

PC Harriman was taken to hospital with her injuries.  

The suspect later went to court and pleaded guilty to driving otherwise in accordance with a licence, failing to provide a sample of breath, dangerous driving and two counts of assaulting an emergency worker. In May, at Leicester Crown Court, she was handed a 52-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, given a drug rehabilitation order and was disqualified from driving.

PC Harriman said: “I’m honestly appalled by the sentence. I think it’s disgusting that she can use a car as a weapon, so that’s an aggravating factor, and then she just gets a slap on the wrist for what she’s done. She could have killed me. I feel let down by the criminal justice system. I don’t come to work to get assaulted.”

After the incident, PC Harriman was off work for over three weeks before returning to full duties, but is now anxious about being single-crewed.

She said: “Thankfully I’ve now recovered physically, but as time has passed it’s affected me more mentally. I feel nervous and anxious going to jobs without backup, which I was never really worried about before.

“I joined the job to protect people and you don’t really think these things are going to happen to you. I’ve lost my confidence a little bit. I’ve been in the job for over five years and I’ve been assaulted before, things like a slap or a kick. But this has opened my eyes to how dangerous the job is.

“My dad’s in the police as well and he always texts me to say, ‘Be safe’. He was really upset when this happened. My family were worried about me going back.”

Andy Spence, Chair of Leicestershire Police Federation, said that the sentence given to the offender was “woeful”.

He said: “The sentencing from the court is weak and woeful and does nothing to deter offenders from assaulting our officers. Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated incident – last year, there were 50,259 assaults on police officers across the UK. That’s one officer assaulted every 10 minutes.

“In Leicestershire, 890 Leicestershire Police officers were assaulted in the past year. Every day, more than 2 Leicestershire Police officers are assaulted on duty. 17 assaults a week. That is unacceptable.

“In this case, there is no opportunity to appeal against the sentence. An offender has used her car to deliberately run over an officer and has been given no effective punishment. She has used the vehicle as a weapon.

“She did not have a driving licence anyway, so being disqualified from driving will mean nothing to her. This is not justice for Niamh and does not send any type of deterrent to the offender.”

Andy added: “We call on prospective MPs in the Leicestershire and Rutland area – and whichever party forms the new Government – to properly back our Bobbies. Protect the protectors cant just be a slogan it needs to be enforced with meaningful action. Otherwise the recruitment and retention crisis policing is currently suffering will only get worse."


July 2024