A trio of officers who expertly handled a complex situation involving a quick-spreading fire and a knife-wielding man have been nominated for the National Police Bravery Awards 2023.
Attending a call to an address on 24 June last year, PCs Robert Davies, James Pawley and James Langmead had to force entry to a property from which screaming could be heard, only to discover the staircase blocked, an upstairs bedroom set alight and in the adjoining bedroom a man holding a knife to a woman’s throat with her very young children on the bed in front of her.
The immediate threat to the life of the woman and her children was compounded by thick black smoke coming from the items in the next bedroom having been set alight.
PC Pawley was assisted by PC Langmead as they dealt with the fire. PC Pawley took charge of the situation and issued instructions to all to clear the stairs, break open windows and prepare for burning items.
PC Pawley grabbed a mattress that was burning with some intensity, removing the greatest hazard from the scene. His quick actions without hesitation saved the property and neighbouring buildings from being overrun by flames.
In the room next door PC Davies remained calm and engaged with the armed male whilst the entire floor of the property filled with black smoke. The male was not following instructions and continued to hold the knife to the woman’s throat.
It was apparent swift action was needed as the smoke continued to build, and the decision was made to tackle the male.
PCs Davies, Langmead and Pawley rushed the male to disarm him and save the woman and children on the bed. In the mele that followed, PC Pawley was stabbed in the hand.
Despite his injury, PC Pawley continued to command the scene, giving clear instructions to his colleagues. The individual was restrained, arrested and removed from the danger of the confined two-storey house.
PC Pawley managed the scene and instructed those around him to focus attention on the victims, all whilst tending to his own injury.
Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Police Federation chair, said: “All the officers’ ability in managing a high-pressured, control and restraint situation with an armed and dangerous individual, to then turning to a victim-focused care and support mindset, for the mother and children on scene, and for their colleagues too, demonstrated their great skill and significant empathy. A testament to the experience and training they have gathered over their service period.
“The combined quick thinking and actions of all officers involved, led by PCs Pawley and Davies, undoubtedly saved lives and saved property, and what could have had a horrific ending resulted in three saved lives and a disturbed and dangerous individual in handcuffs.”
Chief Constable Scott Chilton, Hampshire Constabulary, said: “There is no question the brave actions of PC Davies, PC Pawley and PC Langmead that day saved lives and I am so proud their courage is being recognised nationally.
“Despite being confronted with such a dangerous situation, these officers did not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way, knowing the lives of a mother and her young children were relying on their swift and decisive action.
“PC Pawley showed immense strength to carry on despite being stabbed, going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure no one else was harmed.
“Every day our officers find themselves first at a scene and if they don’t act fast and with complete professionalism, lives would be lost, and this is a clear example of that.
“Congratulations to the three of you and we wish you the best of luck at the awards ceremony later this year.”