19 Sep Latest news Officers and members of the public commended for acts of bravery
Three officers and two members of the public received Chief Constable’s commendations after risking their lives to protect others at a special ceremony at our HQ in Chelmsford today.
Members of the public were protected from harm after brave police officers detained a knife-wielding man and heroic acts from two members of the public brought justice to a double murderer.
Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne presented the commendations on behalf of our Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, one of the highest accolades a Chief Constable can give. Family and friends watched on as the officers received their awards.
Mr Horne said: “These ceremonies mean an awful lot to us; we don’t get as many opportunities as we’d like to say a sincere thank you to you all. What is special about this ceremony is that we have members of the public that did something that we know probably prevented something of the most atrocious outcome happening.
“The thanks that the people of Essex and probably wider than the county extend to you two, can’t really be captured on a certificate but it is what we have as a police force to say thank you for what you did that day.”
“Day in day out in the county, I read about the amazing stuff that our officers and our staff do. Again, this is another opportunity to say well done and thank you.”
Mr Horne went on to thank the families of the officers for their support that enables them to do their jobs and on behalf of our Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Mr Horne thanked the officers for the times they have had to cancel their days off or change their schedules for their role.
Roger Hirst, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, came to thank the officers and members of the public after the ceremony, he said: “On behalf of everyone in Essex, I would very much like to say thank you to these people for the bravery they’ve shown. It is amazing that people step forward and go that step further than what social duty requires. It’s great to be able to say thank you in person.”
Inspector Lewis Basford (pictured between Mr Horne and Pc Wilks), Pc Patrick Wilks and Pc Terry Saint each received a commendation for risking their own lives to protect members of the public.
On November 4, 2015, the trio attended an incident in South Ockendon where a man was reported to have been armed and making threats to kill members of the public.
Whilst the officers were en route, further 999 calls came in to say he had entered a property. When the officers arrived at the address, they were confronted by a man wielding a large knife. A woman could be heard screaming for help inside and Pc Wilks forced entry to the property. As soon as the officers got through the door, the man lunged at them and threatened to kill them.
The trio were equipped with their personal protection equipment and response shields which offered some protection against the man who was trying to attack them. Despite the risks that the man could still harm them with the knife, the officers risked their lives to confront the man and managed to tackle him and detain him without causing any injury.
The man was charged and remanded for making threats to kill, affray, false imprisonment and possession of a bladed article. He stated to the officers that if they were not equipped with shields, he would have killed them.
Insp Basford said: “I think sometimes you go from job to job and you don’t take into account how much of an impact it has on you. When you get recognised for something that has happened which is slightly above and beyond the normal day, it’s nice to know that it’s appreciated.
“It’s not just appreciated by our colleagues or our senior officers, when these sort of stories go into the public domain there’s a full awareness of what we deal with on a day in day out basis across the whole of Essex and the UK.”
Patrick Pc Wilks said: “It’s nice to be acknowledged. I do it day in day out and you don’t really think about until after the job is done and go back home to your own family. I’ve got two young kids and you get back and think was I daft?
“I just have to appreciate that it’s the job that I do and it’s nice to be recognised for something that I take for granted and what I do on a daily basis.”
Jenny Gamble and Michelle Sadler (pictured next to Mr Horne) both received a commendation for their quick thinking and public spirited actions when they risked their life to help detain James Fairweather, who confessed to killing both James Attfield and Nahid Almanea.
Michelle were was walking her dog in Colchester when she saw a man acting suspiciously near a wooded area. She knew that one of the recent murders in Colchester had taken place near to the location and believed the man was wearing a similar coat to the man the police were looking for. Michelle saw Jenny approaching her and quickly warned her about the man and the pair called the police to report the man’s whereabouts.
Despite the risk posed to both of the women, they remained at the scene and kept an eye on Fairweather in order to ensure he was located when the police arrived.
By risking their lives to ensure the man was arrested, Jenny and Michelle helped to bring justice to the offender who was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment.
Jenny said: “I would hope that any member of the public would have done what we did and even though we didn’t know what we were getting into, I hope that we would do the same again because we’ve saved lives.
“Essex Police were brilliant, they kept us informed when he was arrested, when he was charged and when he was found guilty at trial. They phoned me to tell me he was sentenced and I felt sick knowing that he had been waiting there for someone.”
Michelle said: “I didn’t think much of how serious it was at the time, it was the first day of the school holidays and I was worried he could have been waiting to prey on children. It wasn’t until the next day when I got a call from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate that it sunk in. Thankfully, we used our initiative when others might have carried on walking and fortunately he was sentenced.”