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  1. ITV Report

Volunteer police officers considered quitting after violent assault in Essex

Two volunteer police officers who were attacked as they patrolled a Colchester night spot say they considered leaving the force.

Special Inspector Robert Boyle and Special Constable Toby Romani were called to the town's High Street in the early hours of January 13 to reports of a man using a broken bottle to threaten people.

It was while they were talking to a group of people that Jack Hudson - a 20-year-old from Bromley Close, Clacton - headbutted S/Insp Boyle in the face.

He went on to kick and punch him in the head while he was lying on the floor. As SC Romani tried to protect his colleague, Hudson also punched him.

"It was at that point I opened my eyes and just looked down and I was covered in blood. They sat me on the back of the van and then we were taken to hospital."

– Special Constable Toby Romani
S/Insp Robert Boyle was left with a broken jaw and lost three teeth Credit: ITV News Anglia

S/Insp Boyle's jaw was broken in two places and, almost a year after the assault, he is still recovering.

In the months that followed, he saw a counsellor who helped him decide he would return to his volunteer role.

"It took a big decision to come back from something like that. You don't volunteer to do this to get the injuries I get.

"Twenty eight years I've been doing it now. I have been to all sorts of stuff but nothing where a group of guys like that have decided to attack the emergency workers for no real reason.

"To let that stop me from helping others wouldn't have been fair on other people. I have put a lot of time into it and I have helped a lot of people and that out-weighs anything that happened."

– S/Insp Boyle

According to official figures, assaults on police officers in Essex are becoming more common.

In 2018/19, there were 992 recorded - up 31% on the previous year and the equivalent of three a day.

The Police Federation believes part of the increase could be down to more officers reporting their experiences.

They say the figures could help them push for stronger sentences for people who are convicted of assaulting emergency workers.

Jack Hudson admitted charges of grievous bodily harm with intent and assaulting a person causing them actual bodily harm. In July, he was sentenced to six years for the attack on S/Insp Boyle and 12 months for assault SC Romani, to run concurrently.

After being punched by Hudson, SC Romani was eventually able to disperse the group using CS spray.

But the attack knocked his confidence and he questioned his ability to protect the public.

He admits to having "a brief moment" when he considered leaving - but said the support he received from his colleagues eased his worries.

SC Toby Romani considered leaving the force following the attack in January Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It's a great feeling, kitting up and going out to help people no matter what situation they are in or what the call is. You just try to give back a bit to the community."

– SC Boyle