Police Federation

Gwent and South Wales

A team of selfless officers who risked their own lives, entering a blazing building multiple times to rescue residents and help a knife attack victim, have been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024.

Officers were dispatched to an emergency call in the early hours of 16 November 2022 following reports that a 32-year-old man had stabbed his father with a knife at an address in Nelson, near Caerphilly.

Following their arrival at the scene, Gwent and South Wales Police officers from the joint firearms unit and response provided first aid to the victim while a PC, who wishes to remain anonymous, and PC Luke Francis attended the address of the suspect following reports he had left the scene of the assault.

While close to the property, they noticed smoke coming from an upstairs window and a light within the flat was then switched off.

They took the decision to conduct an emergency search of the flat in a bid to preserve life of anyone within the property which was now ablaze as a mattress was set alight.

Fighting against the rising temperatures, roaring flames and billowing smoke, the officers – joined by a police sergeant who wishes to remain anonymous – attempted to bring the fire under control but due to the dangerousness of the blaze withdrew from the flat by using fire extinguishers.

They were inside the flat for around eight minutes initially searching for anyone within the address often on their hands and knees due to the dense smoke and while keeping a firearm pointed in the direction of any possible armed subjects.

The aflame flat was connected to three other adjoining properties, so a second emergency search of these addresses was conducted to ensure the safety of those in the vicinity of the fire.

PS Ashley Joseph and PS Geraint Hopkins carried out the search and they were able to help evacuate two people and a dog from an adjacent property.

Shortly after the evacuation, and an hour into the emergency call following their attendance at the scene, the officers developed a compromise tactical plan was created which resulted in all five officers re-entering the property with partial respirators, supplied by the fire service, to conduct a third search.

However, a negotiator and colleagues in the force control and command centre were able to ascertain that the subject was hiding nearby, and he shortly handed himself over to the police.

Vice-chair of South Wales Police Federation Phil Walker said: “Every day, police officers put their lives on the line to protect members of the public. This is, without a doubt, an example of that. 

“Each of the officers nominated demonstrated undeniable bravery and courage, on so many levels, that day. All of them put their own safety at risk to save the lives of others. 

“We are very proud of our nominations, and with them every success at this year’s ceremony.”

Gwent Police Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hobrough said: “Our officers regularly respond to life-threatening situations where there is an urgent or pressing risk to the lives of the public. This is a prime example of this type of call.

“The actions of these officers were not only brave but demonstrated a desire to protect the lives of anyone in the vicinity of this emergency at all costs.

“By acting quickly and demonstrating an ability to solve problems on the spot, they were able to prevent this situation escalating into something more tragic.

“I would like to congratulate each of these officers with their nomination on behalf of Gwent Police.”

Gwent Police Federation Chair Matthew Candy said: “Our members acted in the best traditions of the police service, putting themselves at risk to protect life and limb.

“They responded quickly, calmly and effectively to an evolving situation, running towards danger to protect victims, rescue neighbours, and prevent it from turning into an even more dangerous incident than it already was.

“They fully deserve their nomination and, on behalf of Gwent Police Federation, I congratulate them for it.”

Superintendent Sarah Greening, the acting head of the joint firearms unit (JFU), said:

“The JFU officers involved in this incident demonstrated extreme bravery and selflessness in the face of multiple dangers, and willingly risked their own safety in order to protect victims and the wider public from harm.

“In identifying the potential risk to other properties and acting quickly to search and evacuate these, they displayed outstanding situational awareness and acted swiftly to preserve life.

“By carrying out the initial and subsequent searches of the property – the second with the assistance of the fire and rescue service breathing apparatus when the building was well alight and at risk of collapse – they demonstrated extreme courage and tactical ingenuity in the most trying of circumstances.

“I thank and whole heartedly commend them for their actions.”

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