Police officer 'appalled' by 'disgusting' sentence given to woman who ran her over

Photo of PC Niamh Harriman outside Leicester's Euston Street Police Station
-Credit: (Image: Si Barber/MartisMedia)


A Leicestershire Police officer has slammed as "disgusting" the sentence given to a woman who ran her over while attempting to flee officers. PC Niamh Harriman said she believed she could have been killed by the woman, and was still struggling mentally after the incident, which left her with several injuries.

PC Harriman and her colleagues were attempting to remove the woman’s children from her care after concerns for their safety had been raised. However, the woman attempted to drive off with one of the children, and, in the process, drove over PC Harriman’s foot as she attempted to remove the car’s keys through the open passenger door. The incident, in February this year, knocked the officer to the floor. The unlicensed driver then reversed over her thigh.

PC Harriman suffered a sprained hip, swollen ankle and foot and extensive bruising to her thigh, as well as cuts and grazes to her face and hands. While the pain has eased, the officer revealed she is suffering longer-lasting damage. She said: “I’ve now recovered physically, but as time has passed it’s affected me more mentally. I feel nervous and anxious going to jobs without backup, which I was never really worried about before." She added: "I joined the job to protect people and you don’t really think these things are going to happen to you.”

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As PC Harriman lay prone following the incident, the woman continued to reverse her vehicle until she crashed into another car. PC Harriman’s colleagues subsequently arrested her for dangerous driving and assault on an emergency worker.

The woman appeared before Leicester Crown Court earlier this month after pleading guilty to an array of offences, including two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and single charges of dangerous driving and driving without a licence. She was handed a 52-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, given a drug rehabilitation order and was disqualified from driving.

PC Harriman said: “I’m honestly appalled by the sentence. I think it’s disgusting that she can use a car as a weapon, so that’s an aggravating factor, and then she just gets a slap on the wrist for what she’s done.

"She could have killed me. I feel let down by the criminal justice system. I don’t come to work to get assaulted.”

Generic image of two police officers from the rear
Thousands of assaults against police officers were recorded last year -Credit:Andy Medina

The injuries meant the officer was off-duty for three weeks. She is now back at work, but said every day was difficult while the prospect of going out alone concerned her. She said: “I’ve lost my confidence a little bit. I’ve been in the job for over five years and I’ve been assaulted before, things like a slap or a kick.

“But this has opened my eyes to how dangerous the job is. My dad’s in the police as well and he always texts me to say, ‘Be safe’. He was really upset when this happened. My family were worried about me going back.”

Officials from Leicestershire Police Federation have also criticised the sentence. Chairman Andy Spence labelled it “woeful”. He said: “The sentencing from the court is weak and woeful and does nothing to deter offenders from assaulting our officers. Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated incident.”

According to Mr Spence, more than 50,000 assaults on police officers were recorded in the UK last year - the equivalent of one assault every 10 minutes. In Leicestershire, he said, 890 assaults took place in the past 12 months.

Mr Spence said: "Every day, more than two Leicestershire Police officers are assaulted on duty; 17 assaults a week. That is unacceptable.

“An offender has used her car to deliberately run over an officer and has been given no effective punishment. She has used the vehicle as a weapon. She did not have a driving licence anyway, so being disqualified from driving will mean nothing to her. This is not justice for Niamh and does not send any type of deterrent to the offender.”

A previous version of this story stated the woman was handed a two-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. The information supplied to us was incorrect. In fact, the sentence was 52 weeks, suspended for 18 months.

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