Posted: Wed 26th Jun 2024

North Wales police officers speak on violence impact

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

North Wales Police officers have candidly spoken about the impact and effects of being victims of violence in the course of their duties.

Highlighting some of the most challenging and dangerous situations they have encountered, Inspector Matt Subacchi and PC Shannon Smith have bravely shared their experiences as part of Response Policing Week.

This week celebrates the hard work, dedication, and bravery of those who respond to calls from the public and confront criminals day and night.

PC Smith, 26, who joined the force three years ago, recounted a recent “debilitating” assault that made her question her career in the police.

“I was bitten,” she said. “But on top of that, there was a bit of a scuffle, and I came away with other injuries as a result. I suffered with my back and both of my knees, and I had an injury on my hand.”

She continued, “I had to go to A&E straight away to have antibiotics for two weeks – and that knocks you about in itself. It was about three months that I suffered with the injuries that I had. It was hard.”

In the past year, over 500 assaults against police officers, staff, and volunteers were recorded in North Wales.

“It was from quite a young age that I knew I wanted to become a police officer,” PC Smith shared. “But there were times in the last few months where I’ve questioned, is it worth it, because I’ve been in quite a low place really. Having come out the other end, and I am physically fine now, I don’t regret [becoming an officer] because you are helping people, and it does have a positive impact on you as well – especially when you do something good for someone, and people are very grateful for what we do, and that’s the rewarding side of it.”

Inspector Matt Subacchi, 36, who has faced numerous attacks during his time as a response officer, remarked, “There’s a degree of, ‘it comes with the job’. No, it doesn’t. Dealing with confrontation certainly does. Being assaulted doesn’t.”

“I’ve been hit by vehicles, I’ve been hit with bats, I’ve had knives pulled out on me, I’ve been headbutted and bitten. But by far, the worst thing for me was being spat at in the face. That’s as intrusive as it gets for me. I would be sooner hit by a car a number of times than have someone spit in my face.”

PC Smith also discussed the emotional toll of her injuries. “If I get stressed, I’ll usually take myself to the gym and that helps me. But I couldn’t do that after the incident in work, and because of my injuries to my back, I couldn’t go to the gym and get what I would normally get out of it. So, I struggled a lot. I was struggling to even put my socks on in the morning to come to work, to sit behind a desk, so it was very debilitating, really.”

She added, “It does take its toll on you. The job is stressful enough anyway, without having a physical injury to deal with and assaults to deal with and worrying about the next time you go to a similar job, are you going to get assaulted again?”

Reflecting on the risks, Inspector Subacchi, a father of two, said, “What’s the hard thing I think, was when I became a dad and going home with those injuries. There’s a bigger risk when you’ve got a family sitting at home waiting for you. We understand that we’re going to be put in situations that most people don’t experience or have to go through. We’re alright with that, and we’re willing to do that. It’s an element of what we get paid to do. But it doesn’t make it necessarily easy to experience.”

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