‘We’re pinned against walls by thugs who try to sexually assault us – being a female copper in the UK is not easy'

THEY patrol the streets to keep you safe – but female officers in the UK face violence and sexual assaults on a near daily basis. 

We recently published pictures of the horrific wounds inflicted on a female officer after a teenage thug attacked her in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics, in September.

The anonymous officer needed 17 stitches on her nose after the savage attack while cuffing a suspect.

It’s a scene ex-Police officer Alice Vinten, 39, from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, is only too familiar with after spending 11 years with the Met.

In her memoir On The Line, Alice recounts a warts and all diary of her ten years working for the Met police. She left the service in 2015 but will never forget the action she saw on the thin blue line.

From domestic violence to terror attacks, Alice shares a day in the life of a female copper. 

10am – pinned to the floor by violent suspect

We arrive at a bail hostel – there’s been a report of a disturbance between two men on the top floor. 

As another officer checks one suspect, I knock up his neighbour and notice a smear of blood. The unlocked door swings open slowly. 

It can be daunting going it alone – sadly underfunding means this can happen often to female officers. 

It’s a serious safety concern. Gang initiations can involve calling the police and assaulting a female officer when her guard is down. 

Some would never hit a woman but there are many violent people out there that just see the uniform. 

Today I’m lucky my colleague is just a room away. 

I struggle to see through a haze of cigarette smoke as I walk into the centre of the room. 

"Hello?" I say – and then the door swings shut behind me. 

As I turn, a face appears and I recognise it. Mr Dixon* – I’m immediately on alert. 

This man has been in and out our custody suite and is known to be violent – specifically against female officers. 

I rest my hand on my CS spray. 

He looks me up and down and revulsion shudders through every part of my body. 

A confident smirk cracks across his face and everything I’ve learnt as a copper tells me he wants to hurt me… badly. 

He steps towards me and I consider calling for help. But I don’t want to show weakness.

As a female officer you are constantly trying to prove yourself. 

I know I can handle myself fine but it still stings when male officers think you aren’t up to the job. 

"Take one more step and I’ll gas you," I say pointing the canister towards his face. 

He backs up and holds his open palms towards me.

I reach for my personal radio and before I know it Dixon has slammed his body against mine. 

"I’m not going back inside" he says. 

Sexual assault is a serious threat towards women officers – I’ve had rape threats and sexual comments from suspects in my career.

He’s now on top of me – pinning my whole body to the floor. He’s going to kill me – or worse. 

Sexual assault is a serious threat towards women officers – I’ve had rape threats and sexual comments from suspects in my career. 

One colleague of mine was sexually assaulted by a suspect in front of other officers. It was humiliating for her. 

That’s in the back of my mind as I try to shout for help but all that comes out is a choked wheeze. 

A surge of strength I didn’t know I had rips through me and I shove Dixon upwards. 

I push the emergency button on my radio and it immediately lets out a series of high-pitched beeps. 

My colleague comes barrelling in through the door and wrestles Dixon’s arms behind his chest to cuff him.

I nick him for one count of assault against his neighbour and one count of assault against police. 

In the end, he wasn't tried for these charges – but he was recalled to prison outstanding warrants.

1pm – stop and search with rogue cop

I’m on patrol with the new guy Nick*. He has recently moved boroughs and rumours about his departure are rife. 

I try to judge people for myself – but this guy is coming off as lazy, rude and a bit of a fantasist. 

While on patrol, we keep our eyes open for the telltale twitch of suspicion. I spot the quick slip of a green hoody being pulled over a face. 

Nick is out of the car before I cut the engine. Maybe he’s not so lazy after all.

"Can I ask why you stopped me?" Green Hood asks Nick, who has ordered him against the wall. 

"No you f*****g can’t," Nick barks back. 

I’m open-mouthed at Nick’s behaviour and calmly explain to Green Hood that he turned course after spotting a police car.

Nick grabs Green Hood’s wrist. Green Hood ducks down pulling Nick towards him and they fall against the wall. 

"You’re under arrest for public order offences," Nick announces triumphantly. 

He tightens the cuffs and Green Hood screams in pain. He looks over to me smirking and gives a wink.

Does he think he’s in an American cop movie?

Sadly the force can attract bullies and racists – and frustratingly it drags the reputation of good coppers down with them. 

Stop and search means we are often accused of being racist – especially towards the black community. 

I can sympathise with that frustration. There are old school bobbies who think that if you’ve got nothing to hide you shouldn’t mind being searched. 

But being stopped day in and day out for going about your business is just simply not OK.

There needs to be better training, better communication and we need to report and root out racists. 

When I get back to the station I vow to never work with this clown again. 

3pm – schizophrenic with knife obsession

"Officers to respond to an I graded call in Brinkley Villas*, informant stating she has a knife and is going to kill herself" crackles out on the radio. 

'I grade' means immediate. We reach the address in three minutes. 

It’s a familiar call to police – Mrs Mowbray, 54*, an obese schizophrenic with an obsession with knives. Brilliant. 

We deal with serious mental health patients on a day to day basis and often groan at doing so. 

No one deserves to be dealt with by officers when they are having a breakdown. 

Either mental health needs more funding or we need better training in dealing with these scenarios. 

We get an update that Mrs Mowbray is now threatening to stab any police officers who try to stop her killing herself. 

We rap on the door calling her name – no answer so we step into her hallway and edge downstairs. 

Stepping into dark buildings usually spooks me but this visit is something else. 

I can hear the creepy tinkle of Jeepers Creepers playing from a radio behind a closed door. 

This is how horror films start. 

"Who dat?" Mrs Mowbray shouts from the other side. 

We explain and she tells us to go away. 

But she’s called us and it’s our duty to make sure she’s ok before we leave. I force the door. 

"I wouldn’t do that if I were you," she says in a playful sing-song voice. 

"I’ve got a mighty big knife in here and if you open that door, I’m going to cut you into teen tiny pieces."

I shudder but we burst through the door and Mrs Mowbray is sat on a single bed with a pink frilled valance. 

Her grey hair is set in rollers and her pink nightdress is pressed and clean. She’s as wide as the bed. 

She waves the bluntest, rustiest and oldest machete ever over her head while struggling to sit up. 

"I’ll cut you!" she shouts.

She would have to bash us with the machete for about half an hour to even bruise us. 

My partner marches up to her and swiftly grabs the knife.

I step into the hallway and run a damp hand over my sweaty forehead. This so easily could have gone another way. 

5pm – suspected terror attack

Control tells us they’ve had multiple calls about a man outside the local station, chanting in Arabic and wearing a wire-laden rucksack.

This is the kind of call you constantly dread. 

Three of us arrive at the station – witnesses tell us he’s just headed down the escalators. Other units will arrive in 15 minutes. We’re on our own. 

We race down the metal steps and check the platforms. A train whizzes away. We’ve just missed him. 

He’s on his way to the next station. We call it in as we head there in our car. 

At the scene, we spot him on the station’s concourse.

A thin weedy guy, with a thick beard and a red wire running from his rucksack, over his shoulder and tucked into his collar. 

As we slowly approach, he raises his arms – I see the red wire snakes up his arm and into his clenched fist. 

This is it. He’s going to press the button. 

My partner Trevor* looks calm: "I don’t think you have a bomb at all, do you?"

The suspect’s shoulders sag and Trevor tugs at the red wire which unfurls with no resistance. 

It’s connected to nothing. There is no bomb. 

I feel like laughing. I feel like screaming. I want to punch the suspect in the face. 

I ask the man to put his arms down – if armed response arrive they will shoot him. 

My partner laughs: "That’s what he wants. Suicide by Police, Coward."

The suspect turns out to be a schizophrenic drug addict – off his meds. 

9pm – jeered at in broken down van

I’m in the driver’s seat of the prisoner van. I love driving the van – it feels great being a woman in charge of a hulking great machine. 

Just as I’m feeling incredibly pleased with myself I head on to a roundabout – and stall. 

The engine splutters as I try to restart the engine. 

We couldn’t have broken down in a worse spot. A pub full of drinkers have spotted me struggling at the wheel and are now jeering. 

Luckily they agree to give us a push and we’re off when the motor jumps back into action.

My colleague is in hysterics – I’ll never live this down. 

10pm – broken nose and ribs in domestic attack

When you get a call for a domestic my experience tells me you get there as soon as you can.

I’ve seen too many battered women to take domestic violence lightly. I put the blue lights on and grip the wheel.

Rarely a shift goes by without a DV call – and that increases towards Christmas or any boozy holiday.

The radio tells me there’s a history of violence, weapons and mental health issues at this address.

We arrive at the scene and the splintered door tells me we – the police – have been here before. 

"Police!" I shout. I hear a door slam and muffled crying. 

We run upstairs to the kitchen and one look at the woman tells me we need an ambulance. Fast. 

Joanne’s* about forty, her fingernails are torn, her nose broken, one eye is swollen shut and from her breathing I’m guessing she may have fractured ribs.

While my partner hunts down the suspect, I sit with her and ask if he hit her with anything. 

"Just his fists as usual" she tells me. 


If you are a victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected]

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service available Monday to Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-12:00pm.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together,www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans,www.samaritans.org, 116 123
  • Movember,www.uk.movember.com

"He’ll be nicked for this Joanne. Will you support us?" I ask. 

With her good eye, she gives me a look which shows she’s heard this all before. 

"What’s the f*****g point? He always gets me back in the end."

That is the saddest part of police work. Women sometimes retract their statements out of fear of their partner. 

And then there’s plenty of unreported cases we don’t know about until it’s too late. 

What a waste of a life. 

*Names and ages have been changed 


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