A policeman stabbed in the head and body during a “frenzied” machete attack is expected to make a full recovery, his bosses have said.
The patrol officer, who is in his 30s, was attacked after trying to stop a van suspected of having no insurance in Leyton, east London, at around midnight on Thursday.
The vehicle’s 56-year-old driver was Tasered by the officer despite him being seriously injured in the “sudden and brutal” assault which lasted just seconds, Scotland Yard said.
Witnesses described the attacker being pinned to the ground as he was arrested by another officer, who was not armed with a Taser, before being bundled into a police van after more than a dozen emergency vehicles arrived on the scene.
The officer, who has around a decade of police experience, was treated by colleagues and paramedics in Leyton High Road as his uniform lay next to him on the ground.
One witness heard him screaming, while Muhammad Faisal, 31, described the aftermath as a “shocking” scene.
“We saw someone lying on the road. Next to him was his police uniform,” he said.
“They were providing him assistance to his head. We didn’t see the wound, but we saw a lot of blood.”
“I saw one police officer was holding a knife. It was a machete,” he added, describing the blade as “around a foot long”.
The Uber driver went on: “The first thought was maybe the man lying on the floor had lost his life. It makes you think because it was a police officer – people on the road for our safety.
“It gives you an emotional feeling as well. That’s why we stayed to make sure he’s alive.”
As police briefed journalists at Forest Gate police station, the van which the officer had stopped was taken away on a flatbed truck for further forensic examination.
The driver, who did not require hospital treatment, has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and taken to an east London police station.
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker said: “Having engaged the driver, who was quite aggressive … he then tries to make off, gets back in the van, and a violent struggle ensues where he produces a weapon and stabs our officer in the head and around the body.”
Mr Tucker, who described the attack as “frenzied and unprovoked”, said the officer is “seriously injured, but he will make a recovery”.
He is being treated for a wound to the side of his head, which requires stitches, and will have an operation on an injured hand from fending off the attacker.
Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said: “This is horrific news. Police officers across London are out there every day at risk protecting the public – and sadly, yet again, a Metropolitan Police officer has suffered a severe injury on duty.”
He added: “Enough is enough. Police officers should be going home at the end of their shifts. Not to hospital.”
Politicians also expressed their shock at the attack.
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Absolutely horrified by the shocking stabbing of one of our brave police officers in Leyton overnight.
“His courage in the face of danger shows how police put their lives on the line to protect us every day. I wish the officer a full recovery & my thoughts are with him.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I am utterly appalled by this sickening attack. The men and women who serve in our police force in London are the best in the world, and their courage and dedication is inspiring.
“I’m in contact with senior Met officers, and an arrest has been made.”
The attack comes as figures show knife possession offences committed by women and girls in England have risen by at least 10% every year since 2014, with the highest number of cases in London.
The most recent police recorded crime figures released by the Office for National Statistics show there were more than 30,000 assaults on officers in England and Wales in 2018/19.
Some 20,578 were crimes of “assault without injury on a constable” – up 13% from the previous year – while 10,399 were crimes of “assault with injury on a constable”, an increase of 27% from the previous year.