‘Violated’ police officer speaks out after being groped by man ejected from Victorious Festival

A POLICE officer has told how he feels 'violated' after being sexually assaulted by a man he was arresting at a festival.

PC Mark Walsh was on duty at Victorious Festival on Sunday when he went to deal with a drunkard.

Complaints had been made about the 25-year-old’s behaviour on the festival site and he was chucked out by security.

But when PC Walsh – who has waived his right to anonymity to speak about the incident –  went to deal with the situation he was groped.

Now the 34-year-old officer – an experienced public support unit officer trained to deal with major public disorder including riots – has spoken out in a bid to warn such assaults on anyone are unacceptable.

PC Walsh said: 'Having someone grab you like that unexpectedly makes you feel violated and pretty powerless.

PC Mark Walsh. Picture: Paul Jacobs

PC Mark Walsh. Picture: Paul Jacobs

‘Everyone is so quick to judge and say what they would do if it happened to them like “deck the person” but that’s not a response we can always take!

‘I was firm with him and expressly told him to stop.’

PC Walsh arrested the London festival-goer in Clarence Parade, Southsea, at around 7pm on Sunday for being drunk and disorderly, later disclosing the sexual assault in his witness statement.

‘Policing is a risky job and there are expectations that you might get injured or assaulted,’ he said.

‘Personally I think that it’s more of a risk than any other time than it has been in my 12 years of policing. It’s more a risk now and it happens more frequently.’

The man was handed a conditional caution for the sexual assault on PC Walsh and for being drunk and disorderly.

He must now go on an alcohol diversion course and pen a letter of apology to the officer.

‘When I arrested him he started to simulate we were having sex and was rubbing himself against me,’ PC Walsh said.

The man called PC Walsh ‘Britney Spears’ and grabbed his crotch.

PC Walsh added: ‘He seemed to think he can grope me and touch me like that.’

In Hampshire 1,159 officers were assaulted in 2017-2018.

PC Walsh, a fraud investigator in Portsmouth, now hopes to meet the man in a restorative justice process.

He added: ‘In public life or in the private sector we shouldn’t have a culture where we go to work and expect to laugh off being inappropriately touched.’

Chris Powling, vice-chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said the assault on PC Mark Walsh outside Victorious Festival was ‘extremely disturbing’.

PC Powling, a serving roads policing officer, said: ‘Any assault – whatever form of assault – on a police officer is totally unacceptable.

‘Socially I would imagine members of the public would think the same but in this case it’s extremely disturbing that someone thought it was acceptable to touch PC Mark Walsh in this way and think he could get away with it.

‘Fortunately he didn’t and is now full of remorse and fully accepts he shouldn’t treat an officer in this way and clearly won’t do it again.

‘He’s gained a criminal record from doing something like this.’

A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘An attack on one of our officers or staff is an attack on all of us.

‘If someone is hurt while on duty, the impact is huge.’