'I can't hide it from them' - police officer assaulted countless times struggles to explain cuts and bruises to children
PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:38 04 March 2019
A Suffolk police officer who has served on the front line for 17 years has spoken of his heartbreak at explaining his bloody noses, black eyes and broken bones to his young family.
Pc Andrew Overton, who works as a response officer in Ipswich, has been assaulted around 100 times in nearly two decades of service – suffering blows that have drawn blood and knocked out his teeth.
Speaking about life as a married officer with three children, Pc Overton said it is common for him to come home with cuts and bruises – which often prompts concern among his son, seven, and his daughters, nine and two.
“I can’t hide it from them,” he said.
“I tell them what has happened [but I] don’t go into great detail.
“It is a fine balance between telling them everything and trying to hide things. They are going to make assumptions in their minds.”
Pc Overton described one particularly heart-wrenching moment when he came across a book his seven-year-old son had made about his dad’s job for a school project.
It included ordinary pictures of Pc Overton looking smart in his uniform – but one page was different from the rest.
“My little boy had done a book at school of a ‘day of daddy at work’,” he explained.
“There was one picture of daddy with a bloody nose.
“He said: ‘That is where one of the nasty men punched him in the face.’
“It sits on their minds.”
Pc Overton has previously welcomed tougher penalties for people who lash out emergency staff – backing the new Protect the Protectors bill, which increased the maximum jail sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from six months to a year.
However the threat of an assault is still very real on a day to day basis.
“Unfortunately it happens frequently,” Pc Overton said.
“I can’t really put my finger on the reason why, it just seems to happen to me.
“A lot of times it’s people acting out of character or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We are taking their liberty away and that is fight or flight mode.
“The way I try and deal with it is it’s nothing personal – it’s an attack on the uniform.”
Pc Overton was recently caught in a scrap with a man who stole an axe from Wilko and stashed it down his trousers near the Old Cattle Market bus station in Ipswich.
Thankfully, Pc Overton and his colleague Pc Wright managed to obtain CCTV from the borough council to determine the man’s whereabouts and approach him from the blind side – confiscating the axe before any serious harm could be done.
However both still came away with cuts and bruises, and Pc Wright got a lump on his head after the man attempted to headbutt him. It was later revealed in court that the suspect had intended to bite his nose off.
“Fortunately the element of surprise was on our side,” Pc Overton said.
“We managed to get hold of him and get the axe that was in his waistband.
“He decided for whatever reason he wasn’t happy – he kicked me as well.
“Because we had got so close into him and secured the axe quickly [he could only use] his own bodily weapons.”
Brian Boxall, 31, of Lakeside Close, Ipswich, was jailed for 14 months after admitting to theft, possessing an article with a blade and two offences of assaulting emergency workers.
Pc Overton said he was pleased the judges were “backing increased sentences” for people who use violence against police officers.
“From a police perspective, we would always go: ‘They should get more’,” he said.
“I am sure their decision was the right one.
“Hopefully the message will get out there that the [judges] are backing us with increased sentences.”