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Solihull's Olympic hero takes part in police riot training

HOCKEY could hardly be described as a sport for the faint hearted - when 24 players with sticks are thrown onto a field there’s bound to be some bumps and bruises.

HOCKEY could hardly be described as a sport for the faint hearted - when 24 players with sticks are thrown onto a field there’s bound to be some bumps and bruises.

So Solihull’s own Olympic medallist Sally Walton was probably better prepared than most to take part in police public order training last week.

Sally, who won bronze with Team GB’s women’s team, was invited along to take part in the gruelling exercises, simulating the sort of conditions that officers would have encountered during the summer riots of 2011.

She donned a helmet and body armour for the gruelling all-day session, which saw officers practise breaking down a door with an “enforcer” - a heavy-duty battering ram - and containing someone using their riot shields.

It was a literal baptism of fire, as Sally also took part in an exercise in which petrol bombs were hurled at the advancing police.

“You were inside equipment which I suppose wouldn’t be dissimilar from what the goalkeeper wears in hockey,” said the 31-year-old.

“It’s flame retardant so you have confidence that it will protect you from the fire. Though it certainly made you appreciate what officers have to do in those situations.”

The Solihull College tutor also had the chance to fire a tazer, joking that the equipment’s laser-sight would be handy if fitted to the end of a hockey stick.

The event, held at a training base in Shropshire, marked 80 years since women were first given the powers of arrest.

Female officers were only allowed into the West Midlands force in 1918 – and they had to be at least 45. They did not receive personal protective equipment either.

They eventually gained the power of arrest in 1933 and, 80 years later, they account for 30 per cent of the force.

And Sally revealed that she had considered a career in the police herself, before becoming a hockey player.

“It was definitely something I thought about.

“The police and Army were things I looked at back when I left school. I always wanted to do something active rather than be sat behind a desk!”

 

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