A PROBATIONER constable has spoken of the moment a man threw blood in his mouth and smashed his head against a garage door.
The incident left PC Jamie Collings, who at the time of the incident had been a constable for little over a year, facing half a year of hospital check-ups to make sure he had not contracted an infection from his attacker.
Next week, the 24-year-old Devizes officer will learn if he has won a national police bravery award. PC Collings is the Wiltshire candidate in the national Police Federation bravery awards, with the ceremony held in central London next Thursday.
Last year, a call came over the radio. A man had smashed the window of his ex-partner’s house in Melksham and grabbed his toddler. Patrolling on his own, PC Collings was first on the scene: “I caught up with the guy a little further along the road.”
The man had blood pouring from a cut on his arm. “I was trying to be reasonable,” said PC Collings, whose first priority was to try and get the bawling child to safety.
Eventually, the man was persuaded to hand the toddler to a friend. It was then that things began to go wrong.
The man ran from PC Collings towards some garages, stopped – and then turned on the officer.
“He had a really had hand injury from where he’d smashed through the window. He had this massive flap of skin,” said the constable.
“He threw some of the blood from that injury in my face. It went in my mouth - it was really rank. He started fighting me. I managed to get him to the floor, but he was punching, kicking and smashed my head against a garage door.”
PC Collings, who had pressed the emergency SOS button on his police radio before it was ripped from his uniform, was able to pin the man on the floor until back-up arrived.
With the suspect in cuffs, PC Collings’ thoughts turned to the blood in his mouth. The danger was clear: he didn’t know whether the man he had scrapped with had any blood-borne diseases like hepatitis or HIV.
The officer was taken to hospital in Bath – to the same A&E department as the suspect. The attacker refused to give a blood sample, which would have allowed doctors to give PC Collings a clean bill of health.
“For me, it meant six months of blood tests. It caused a lot of stress. Although I was pretty sure he didn’t have anything, it was the fear of the unknown,” he said.
His attacker, Philip Besien, was eventually given a community order for assault.
For PC Collings, such attacks are disappointingly common. He said of being nominated for the bravery award: “I was very surprised. It’s something that happens quite often. I didn’t think it was anything special.”
Last year, Home Office figures showed reports of assaults against Wiltshire Police officers had doubled in the previous 12 months. On average, an officer was attacked every four days.
PC Collings said: “I think a lot of people don’t understand police officers are people too. I don’t want to go to work and fight with people. It’s not why I started doing this job.”
Mark Andrews, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “The bravery and professionalism shown by PC Collings went above and beyond the normal call of duty. He showed exceptional bravery in incredibly dangerous circumstances.”
PC Collings'' bravery was praised by the chairman of his police federation.
Insp Mark Andrews, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “The bravery and professionalism shown by PC Collings went above and beyond the normal call of duty. He showed exceptional bravery in incredibly dangerous circumstances.”
PC Collings' commendation for the awards read: "PC Collings stayed calm and put the child’s welfare at the front of his mind. He managed to convince the suspect to hand his child to a neighbour.
"When the child was safe, despite being on his own, PC Collings challenged the violent suspect and tried to arrest him, but the man started to flick blood over the officer. He then punched him in the cheek, slammed him up against a garage door and kicked him in the ribs."
The police federation Bravery Awards will be presented in central London on July 18.
PC Collings has already received a Wiltshire Police Chief Constable's Commendation for his actions.