A police community support officer has been lured into the woods and attacked with a knife, police in Cheshire have said.
The officer was on patrol in the Palacefields area of Runcorn at around 5.10pm on Thursday when a man approached.
The man alerted him to an incident in a nearby wooded area where a group of men appeared to be fighting.
As the PCSO walked towards the group, he was attacked from behind by an unknown man, who tried to stab him in the face with a knife, police said.
The officer was able to fight off the attacker and was taken to hospital with superficial wounds to his hands.
All of the men fled.
Police appealed for any witnesses or information about the attack, saying it had happened in the woods between Sparrowhawk Close and Cunliffe Close and that the men had fled in the direction of Sparrowhawk Close.
The attacker, and the men who had been fighting, were described as white and wearing dark clothing. One of the suspects wore a grey tracksuit.
Detective Inspector Clare Coleman said: "This was a totally unprovoked attack on a police community support officer who was trying to protect our local community.
"The actions of his attacker are simply despicable and I would urge the local community to come together and help us to trace the person responsible so they can be brought to justice.
"While the officer was able to fend off his attacker, he has sustained a number of superficial wounds to his hands and understandably he has also been left extremely shaken as a result of his ordeal.
"I would urge anyone with any information in relation to this incident, no matter how small, to contact the team here at Runcorn."
:: Anyone with any information should contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 668 of 23/11/2017. Information can also be passed anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.