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Sussex Police Federation

Alec Barrett who was viciously assaulted whilst on duty has been nominated for the National Police Bravery Awards

15 February 2024

A Sussex Police officer who was viciously assaulted when he courageously intervened in a street fight has been nominated for the National Police Bravery Awards.

 In April 2023, Sussex Police received reports of an extremely violent group in Brighton town centre assaulting random people on the street, running into shops to steal items and assaulting staff members.

 A team of officers were dispatched to the scene to locate the group.

 Sgt Alec Barrett was the first officer to find them, and he was attempting to arrest the perpetrators for shoplifting and violence when a fight broke out. Sgt Barrett immediately intervened to try to stop the fight and prevent members of the public from being injured.

 Suddenly a man attacked Sgt Barrett – who was on his own - from behind, taking a running punch at his face and then punching him in the face again several times.

 Sgt Barrett said: “I was in a vulnerable position on the ground when the man sucker-punched me from a position that I didn’t see coming. When I regained full consciousness, I looked up to try to work out what had happened, as I knew I was defenceless. He then punched me again a few more times in the face while standing over me.”

 Sgt Barrett was taken to hospital, where he was told he had concussion, a broken eye socket leading to bleeding in his sinuses, a broken nose and damage to his cheek.

 The following month his assailant, Jonathan Beauchamp, was given a year’s custodial sentence suspended for two years. He was also put on a five-month curfew and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,000 in compensation.

 Sgt Barrett is now sadly permanently disfigured, and said the assault had had a profound impact on him and his family.

He said: “It’s been a reality check about the dangers of my job. I’ve been assaulted before, but I now find myself apprehensive about going back to work, especially operational duty, where I might be in the same position again. It’s affected me and my family, who now worry about me going to work”.    

He also told LBC that his children were “quite upset and scared of me and it took quite a lot of time to rebuild the confidence that I was still the same person – I was still their dad.  

“I am permanently disfigured. I’m short of having plates put in, which come with their own risk. I will never look the same. I will never look how I once was, and it’s difficult looking in the mirror each time because it reminds you of what’s happened.”

Raffaele Cioffi, Chair of Sussex Police Federation said: “Alec ran towards danger to protect members of the public and was violently attacked for doing so. He was lucky not to have been blinded.

“We were disappointed in the lenient sentence for such a violent criminal, who had cowardly attacked a defenceless police officer. I fear officers will continue to be seriously injured until the courts take it seriously.

 “Alec is a very worthy nominee from Sussex and we look forward to celebrating him on a national stage in London.”

 Raffaele added that Sgt Barrett was known as ‘Robocop’ across the force, for his incredible arrest record. He said: “Despite being signed off duty when he was assaulted, last year Sgt Barrett arrested 21 suspects and contributed to 76 arrests made by the team he leads. His team describe him as the hardest-working and most dedicated Sergeant they’ve known, and he was given a force Police Officer of the Year Award in November.

 “Alec richly deserves this nomination for his incredible bravery that has, sadly, resulted in life-changing injuries.”

  Nominating Alec for the Police Officer of the Year Award, PC Kevin Creasey said: “He is the hardest working sergeant that I have had the pleasure of working under. He must be the most dedicated officer Sussex Police has.”

 Alec was given the nickname ‘RoboCop’ for his incredible arrest record. His dedication also shone through when a baby was missing in Brighton in March last year. Alec co-ordinated the search and led the extensive house to house enquiries, working throughout the night and again the next morning, despite having a young child at home.

 Picking up the award, Alec said: "This is hugely overwhelming. I'm extremely humbled to not only be here, but to be nominated for something, and win it - it is just amazing."

 As Sussex Police Federation’s nomination for the PFEW National Bravery Awards, Sgt Barrett will attend a reception at Downing Street in July, followed by an evening ceremony with fellow nominees from around the country.