I have recently had the privilege of attending a couple of award ceremonies, to celebrate police bravery and outstanding performance.
We often take for granted all that the police do making it easy to criticise when something goes wrong. And there is no doubt that recent events have cast a shadow over the service which threatens to undermine the public’s trust and confidence. So, I very much welcomed the chance to meet and speak to some of the real heroes of our own Constabulary.
At the national police bravery awards I met two female officers who had showed great courage in rescuing two male casualties from a dangerous gas leak where the house boiler had exploded. The street was evacuated but the officers refused to leave their casualties, one of whom needed lifesaving resuscitation. The risk of a further explosion was very real as the attending fire service officers confirmed.
Officers go towards danger as a matter of course
If that was not impressive enough, one of these two officers was also up for another national bravery award a few days later. In fact, she was the standout winner having single headedly pursued four male suspects at night, in an isolated rural setting, who were attempting to steal a quad bike. The offenders tried to put her off by throwing bricks and a fire extinguisher at the pursuing police car. Undeterred, the officer managed to force the quad bike off the track and tried to arrest one of them, but his three colleagues used weapons and forced her to retreat. Although they escaped temporarily, they were subsequently arrested due to the forensic evidence left on the abandoned buggy.
When I tell you that the officer is barely over 5 feet tall, you will understand how impressive this story sounded as she calmly and modestly explained what had happened. She is fearless and very much deserved her national award.
Of course, there are things within the Constabulary that need urgent attention as this week’s HMICFRS report made clear. And it is my responsibility to see those issues are addressed.
But that should not deter from the exemplary work of all those officers who put on their uniform every day and go towards danger as a matter of course when the easier option would be to turn the other way.