Brave Hartlepool Pc speaks out to tell how he developed PTSD after being stabbed by armed raider

A Hartlepool police officer who was stabbed in the arm by an armed shop raider says it had lasting impact.

By Peter Tennick
Wednesday, 13 February, 2019, 11:29
Pc Mick Johnson and then then Chief Constable Iain Spittle.

Brave Hartlepool Pc Mick Johnson has taken the rare decision to open his heart on the impact of the incident after he confronted a knifeman in 2017, saying it changed his life forever and left him suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He says 'there was no-one else available' and went alone to tackle the knifeman at the Hartlepool shop.

Pc Mick Johnson with his Best of Hartlepool Award.

Pc Johnson was stabbed in the arm while trying to protect shop staff after the male became agitated and aggressive in a shop in Hartlepool on Saturday, May 27.

More officers arrived at the scene and the male was successfully detained.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, and town MP Mike Hill have both called for a better financial deal for the force, which has seen a reduction of more than 500 officers and 50 PCSOs since 2010.

Hartlepool Police Station.

Pc Johnson, who works as a response officer, also says he has seen the number of officers working within the unit halved in the last 10 years.

He said: "I was off [work] for only three weeks, but later suffered from mood swings, short temper and lack of sleep.

"I eventually sought help and was diagnosed with PTSD. I have received counselling for this and although the memory is still with me, I try not to let it affect me."

Recalling what happened, PC Johnson said he was sent to investigate reports of a man acting strangely in a shop.

Best of Hartlepool Awards 2017 Emergency Services Award winner PC Mick Johnson (right) presented by Chris Sorley Director and General Manager Camerons Brewery.

"There was no-one else available, so I attended."

He was attacked by the knifeman while trying to rescue a shopkeeper.

"I tried to keep him calm, but after a few minutes he produced a large kitchen knife from his pocket and moved towards me with it."

The 49-year-old works as a response officer and said: "I have been on this unit since 2009, and it has shrunk from 18 to 20 officers down to about 10.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.

"It's incredibly frustrating not being able to do the job that I still love. I joined to help people and catch criminals and prevent crime, but I spend most of my time dealing with concerns for safety."

Pc Johnson won the Emergency Services award in honour of his role within Cleveland Police in the 2017 Best of Hartlepool Awards run by the Hartlepool Mail.

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He was also was among the staff, volunteers and partners recognised at the annual Cleveland Police Chief Constable’s Star Awards.

He was awarded the Bravery Award by the then Chief Constable Iain Spittal after being injured on duty whilst dealing with a male with mental health issues.

A spokesperson for Cleveland Police said: “Policing is an extremely challenging role and changes in society have had an impact on the work that they do.

Hartlepool Police Station.

"We have invested significantly in our well-being programme and trained teams of blue light champions to encourage staff and officers to access specialist help and support if they need it.

"Mick is an extremely dedicated police officer and we recognise the importance of supporting our police and staff to do the best that they can with the resources that we have available.”

The spokesperson added: "Nothing has changed in terms of the determination whether to single or double crew our officers, and we make decisions based upon any potential risks and threats involved.

"Our armed response officers are double crewed because of the assessments that we make.

"Policing is unpredictable but we do all that we can to ensure the safety of our teams with the resources that we have available."

The Mail reported in recent months how residents in Hartlepool are patrolling the streets at night to protect their property from criminals, as Government cuts have a major impact on policing in the town.

Volunteers in Foggy Furze say they have no option but to take to the streets in the middle of the night following cuts to police in the town.

It came after a stark report revealed there were no police officers in Hartlepool to respond to emergencies at one point on a Saturday night due to all those on duty deployed elsewhere including having to transport suspects to Middlesbrough.

Cleveland Police has has since closed the Custody Suite at Hartlepool Police Station and officers now transport suspects to be questioned in Middlesbrough when they are arrested.

Police Federation says officers nationwide have raised concerns about resources

It comes as Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) published the findings from its latest Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey. They say there has been an increase in lone working – new research reveals that 76.1% of respondents from relevant front-line roles indicated they are often or always single-crewed.

The results also show:

* Almost 9/10 (89.8%) officers say that there are not enough of them to manage the demands faced by their team or unit;

* Almost every police officer has been exposed to at least one traumatic experience in their career, with 61.7% saying they had experienced at least one of these types of incident in the last 12 months;

* 79% of officers say they have felt feelings of stress and anxiety within the previous 12 months, with 94% of those saying these difficulties were caused or made worse by their job;

* 43.9% of respondents reported that they viewed their job as very or extremely stressful. This is a larger proportion than reported in the results from the 2016 Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey (38.6%) and almost three times that found in the general population by the HSE in 2010 (15%), and that found by the Scottish Health Survey in 2017 (16%).