Nottinghamshire police officer praised by Dutch officals for 'commendable' way he defused trouble at MotoGP event in Netherlands
A mayor in the Netherlands has praised a Nottinghamshire police officer for the “commendable” way in which he de-escalated a challenging situation at a major sporting event.
Three officers from Nottinghamshire Police were sent to assist their Dutch counterparts at the TT Assen — a key event on the MotoGP calendar, attracting over 100,000 spectators.
While at the motorsport event, Sergeant Mark Westlake was called to assist six Dutch officers as they struggled to apprehend a British man suspected of assault.
As Dutch officers tried to forcibly restrain the suspect who was lashing out, Sgt Westlake adopted a different approach.
Recalling the incident, he said: “One of our Dutch colleagues came running over to us shouting ‘we need a Bobby, we need a Bobby!’
“I went outside to investigate the disturbance and saw a large-build male with six Dutch police officers, laying on top of him and pinning his head to the ground.
“This was causing the male to lash out violently and it was clear that they were struggling to restrain him due to his bulk and apparent strength.
Their help was sought as the suspect was shouting in english. "I got down on a level with the male, while the Dutch officers were still pinning him down, and informed him that unless he calmed down considerably, I wouldn’t be able to request that the Dutch officers de-escalate.
“The male assured me that he was happy to cooperate with me if the Dutch police removed themselves. I then requested that Dutch officers do exactly that, to which I received the reply ‘are you crazy? He’s way too violent for that!’.
“I calmly told the Dutch officers that I was going to sit the male up and assess his injuries, while continuing to restrain and detain him. I also informed the male that if he increased his violence again, I’d put him back into a restrained position myself."
Sgt Westlake then assisted the subject to sit up and continued to assist in communicate with the Dutch officers, speaking with him about the allegations against him — he had been seen to violently assault a member of public in the street, resulting in a considerable facial injury.
The suspect subsequently calmed down and Sgt Westlake and his Nottinghamshire Police colleague Sergeant Vanessa Wightman escorted him to a nearby police car, where he was placed under arrest and appeared in court the following day charged with the Dutch equivalent of a GBH offence.
Upon hearing about the role played by the Nottinghamshire officers, the Mayor of Assen Marco Out wrote to Sgt Westlake to thank him for his efforts, stating that his “people skills” had helped bring the situation under control.
The letter said: “Your assistance to Assen police in apprehending an English suspect was commendable. You have de-escalated a potential violent situation. Because of your intervention the suspect called down and no longer posed a threat to the Assen police officers.
“I would like to thank you for this. Also on behalf of the police chiefs of Assen Police. We are all very impressed.”
Sgt Westlake said he was touched by the letter, adding that the training given to British police officers must also be recognised.
He said: “The British Police are renowned for being ‘always on duty’ and also having the best police training in the world – two things which on this visit proved very helpful.
“I wasn’t expecting to have to provide a ‘live demo’ while over there, but was pleased that our superb training kicked in, when we did.”
Inspector John Lees, of Nottinghamshire Police, said he was delighted the excellent work of the officers had been recognised.
He said: “This is Holland’s biggest sporting event. For them, it’s like the Monaco Grand Prix in that it attracts massive numbers of people and we do see the odd incident of public disorder.
“On this occasion, a British suspect was safely detained thanks to the shining example of best practice displayed by Nottinghamshire officers.
“I am delighted they have received the recognition and praise they deserve.”