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‘You don’t expect to be assaulted when you’re helping someone’ - Norfolk officer speaks out about shocking attack

PUBLISHED: 19:11 04 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:42 13 November 2018

PC Debbie Lawson. PIC: Supplied by PC Debbie Lawson

PC Debbie Lawson. PIC: Supplied by PC Debbie Lawson

Archant

A Norfolk police officer has described the shocking moment she was attacked while going to help someone in a bid to try and raise awareness about the dangers that frontline staff face on a daily basis.

PC Debbie Lawson has been assaulted at least five times in more than nine years that she has served as a police constable.

But the officer, who is currently based at Gorleston, said the latest attack which happened after she went to help a vulnerable woman has affected her the most.

She said: “I’ve been assaulted before but nothing has affected me, and my family as much as this one.”

In the early hours of May 20 she and a colleague, who were in the prisoner van, went over to try and help three women who seemed to be involved in an argument near to the Ocean Room in Gorleston.

PC Lawson said one woman seemed to be “really intoxicated” and “particularly vulnerable” and they sought to get her home safely.

But while transporting her home in the van, PC Lawson said the woman suddenly attacked her.

“She said something to me and I said I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you said,” the officer explained.

“A few seconds later she looked me straight in the eye and just punched me straight on the bridge of my nose.

“It was just one punch and I saw the white lights and was unconscious in the back of the police van.”

PC Lawson came round but collapsed again as she tried to get out of the van.

The woman was arrested for the assault and taken to the police investigation centre where she attacked a detention officer.

The officer is back at work after a difficult three months of recovery which included regular counselling sessions, support from line managers and colleagues, and occupational health.

Last week her attacker, Naomi Weymouth, appeared in court where she was sentenced to an 18 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 in compensation.

The officer, who is still affected by the case, said: “If you’re trying to detain someone to arrest them you kind of expect it but that’s a totally different situation to the one I’ve just experienced.”

“I was trying to help her and there was no warning signal whatsoever, no warning signs it just came out of nowhere. You don’t expect to be assaulted when you’re helping someone out to try and keep them safe.”

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