13 July 2017
Three officers from Northumbria Police have been named the overall winners of this year’s national Police Bravery Awards, hosted by the Police Federation of England and Wales and sponsored by Police Mutual.
The Northumbria police officers disarmed a mentally ill man who had a history of violence, schizophrenia and paranoia. Police had been alerted to his state of mind and threats to be violent to local drug dealers by a community nurse.
This man presented an immediate threat to public safety and the officers came face to face with how real that threat was when they entered a trap set by the man, who was armed and waiting to level a firearm at them.
PCs Currie and Otterson ended up in a violent and lengthy struggle with the man, grabbing at the arm holding the firearm in a bid to stop him from aiming it at them. Sergeant Richardson quickly joined them to help try to disarm the man, who fired a shot that went through the ceiling of the pub foyer.
The officers believed they were in a fight for the lives with a man who was out of control and capable of anything. After a sustained struggle, and with the assistance of a member of the public, the man was eventually overpowered and disarmed.
A search of the man’s bag later found that he had been in possession of two handguns, a crossbow, a pack of throwing knives, home-made petrol bombs, smoke grenades and a baseball bat. The man was also found to be wearing body armour, clearly intent on doing serious harm. These officers risked their lives to tackle the firearm from his grasp and arrest him.
The trio were presented with the overall winner award by Home Secretary Amber Rudd at a ceremony in central London attended by senior figures from government and policing from around the country. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “It’s because of the instinctive actions and remarkable heroism of PCs Currie and Otterson and Sergeant Richardson that a horrifying incident was stopped and an imminent threat to public safety was averted.
“I pay tribute to their quick thinking and selflessness, which put them in between the public and a dangerous situation. The Police Bravery Awards can honour only a few special acts by a handful of officers, but each of these nominees epitomise the commitment and dedication to duty we see across our police forces every day.”
Sgt Richardson said: “Just even to get here is amazing. And then when we won the regional award I was delighted, so to then hear our force called at the end, I just don’t know what to say. Thank you very much.
“The chief is very passionate about his frontline staff and it was so nice to be sat with him. As he comes to the end of his service I’m sure it will be a night he’ll remember for his force.”
PC Currie added: It’s unbelievable. I was sat back chilling, thinking we wouldn’t have to go on the stage again. I didn’t know what was happening when they called out Northumbria. Thank you so much.
And PC Otterson said: “Every one of those stories deserves recognition, it has been an inspiring day and we are so proud to have won this award.”
Steve White, Police Federation Chair, said: “Today we have honoured some of the bravest officers in England and Wales. We have heard truly astounding feats of bravery, including officers who have saved people from the brink of suicide, tackled offenders armed with knives and guns; and had petrol poured over them with the threat of being set alight.
“Every day officers selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect others and it is right that they are duly recognised for their bravery, courage and dedication to duty.
“This year perhaps more than most, the public realise the threats we face every day, and the heroic efforts of our officers, most of which goes unnoticed and unreported.
“As Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, I am immensely proud to have hosted this significant event and to share this day with such well deserving nominees and winners. Congratulations to you all.”
Stephen Mann, Chief Executive, Police Mutual, said: “Every nominee at this year’s awards has shown outstanding courage and thoroughly deserves to be recognised. Your continued bravery helps ensure that millions of people in our country are kept safe, which is perhaps more important than ever given recent events across the world. This is why we proudly continue to support this event.”