Officer violently assaulted in acid attack wins Midlands Bravery Award

14 July 2016


A Warwickshire officer, PC Sara Skinner, who had ‘acid’ thrown in her face when she tried to stop four burglary suspects, was tonight named Region 3 (Midlands) winner at the 21st Police Bravery Awards in London. The awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour and recognise police officers who perform outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

The attack happened when PC Skinner was patrolling alone on her bicycle in April 2015 in Lillington, Leamington Spa. Having noticed a stolen BMW pull up outside an address that had already been burgled twice that year, PC Skinner then saw three of the car’s occupants try and break into the house.

Identifying herself as a police officer, she was instantly attacked by the men who pushed her from her bike, kicked her and poured a burning liquid into her face. Playing dead to avoid further injury, PC Skinner managed to call for assistance while lying in the road but when police units arrived the stolen car sped off over the top of PC Skinner’s bike.

All four suspects were later arrested and subsequently sentenced at court for offences ranging from conspiracy to commit burglary, assault and kidnap. A forensic scientist identified the liquid poured into the officer’s face as ammonium hydroxide, which causes burns.

PC Skinner, who is still receiving treatment for the injuries she sustained, later received a Chief Constable’s Commendation for her actions which directly led to the arrest, charge and conviction of the violent gang who had been committing offences across the Midlands.

On receiving the award from Stephen Mann, CEO of Police Mutual, PC Sara Skinner said: “I didn't expect it at all. Reading through what everyone else has done I didn't think I was on a par with them, I'm overwhelmed. My partner was upset at the time and this has been very difficult for him to celebrate but he thinks it's worth while for officers to be recognised in this way. He's very emotiional but very proud as my daughters will be when they find out."

Simon Payne, chair of the Warwickshire Police Federation, said: “This was a horrific incident for PC Skinner, and her actions are highly commendable. Approaching a group of criminals, while singe-crewing is a scary thing, and this officer showed immense bravery, not just in attempting to stop a crime – but then managing to ‘play dead’ and not be attacked again. She deserves the upmost recognition.”

Warwickshire Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: “Sara showed true bravery in her actions and displayed commitment and dedication in stopping a group of men committing crime, despite the personal violence that was used against her. She immediately returned to work despite her injuries, to see the job through. This is a real example that police officers are ordinary people who sometimes do extraordinary things.”

Stephen Mann, CEO of Police Mutual, said: “Congratulations to all of the brave nominees this year. We are proud to continue our support for such an inspirational event in the Policing calendar and to be able to show our respect for the exceptional courage shown by Police Officers who risk their lives every day to protect the public.”