Officer injured in Villa Park disorder returns to work after suffering burns

081223 VILLA PARK DISORDER - ITV News Central - West Midlands Police - Ellen Knight
PC Andrew Forbes, from West Mercia Police, was in hospital for two days after a flare was caught in his clothing, causing burn injuries. Credit: West Midlands Police

A police officer who suffered burns during violent scenes that unfolded outside Villa Park has returned to work after spending two days in hospital.

PC Andrew Forbes, from West Mercia Police, inhaled smoke and suffered burns from a flare that was thrown at him, becoming caught in his clothing.

The 43-year-old, who's been serving in the force for 20 years, said he was "grateful" for public support since the incident.

He said: "I’m thankful that my kit and training stood the test and I have an overwhelming relief that I didn’t receive any injuries that will be everlasting. 

"That certainly outweighs the ‘ifs, buts and maybes’."

A chunk of PC Forbes' uniform was burned away by the flare. Credit: West Midlands Police

Five officers were injured on the night of the disorder, as well as two police dogs and two police horses. The other officers suffered concussions and injuries to their hands.

Forty-five men and one woman have since been charged, after hundreds of officers from Midlands forces were deployed when violence broke out after Aston Villa's game against Legia Warsaw on the evening of Thursday 30 November.

Flares and fireworks were set off during the violence. Credit: West Midlands Police

The people charged are aged between 21 and 63 - West Midlands Police say around 40 are believed to be from Poland, and some are believed to be from the UK.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Grant Wills, from West Mercia Police said: "PC Andy Forbes is a very popular member of our Wyre Forest Safer Neighbourhood Team both with the police and members of the local community, so it was upsetting for all to learn of his injuries in this appalling act of violence.

"Andy is a regular on duty at football matches in our patch, therefore he is very experienced in dealing with large crowds and potential troublemakers and he would be the first to step forward and protect his fellow officers.

45 men and 1 woman have been charged over the violence. Credit: West Midlands Police

"However, this group were intent with causing injury to others and unfortunately on this occasion, despite our officers being in full protective kit, Andy was injured."

"We are pleased Andy is making a speedy recovery and we are looking forward to welcoming him back to full duty as soon as possible. We will work with West Midlands Police to bring those responsible for this terrible night of violence to justice."

West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable, Damian Barratt, said: "It’s great that Andrew has been able to make a swift recovery from his injuries and return to work."

PC Forbes is one of five officers who were injured on the night. Credit: West Midlands Police

He continued: "[PC Forbes] was one of a huge number of officers on the night who put themselves in harm’s way and were able to prevent any members of the public being injured.

"The support that they have received from across the country and the footballing world has been fantastic to see.

"Our investigation into the appalling events of that night continues, and we’ll be continuing to gather evidence as work to review many hundreds of hours of footage continues over the coming weeks."

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