Police Federation



A selfless PC who used himself as a human shield to protect a woman who was attacked by a dangerously out of control dog has been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024.

On July 8, 2023, an incident of two dogs attacking a woman and a young girl at a house in Daventry was reported to Northamptonshire Police.

The incident was still unfolding when PC Matt O’Brien arrived as one of the first officers on scene.

He was informed that one of the dogs had attacked a woman, causing a significant neck injury and a bite to her upper arm, and also a young girl who had sustained serious head injuries.

The child had been moved to a neighbouring property by members of the public, who had also managed to lock one of the dogs, which had calmed down, inside the house.

He was told the other dog, which was exhibiting extremely aggressive behaviour and was totally out of control, was still in a garden with the injured woman.

Making a quick assessment, PC O’Brien left the young girl with colleagues so he could locate the dog and the second victim, who was bleeding heavily from her injuries.

Officers needed to get to her to provide emergency first aid, so he climbed over the fence and entered the garden, placing himself in a position of significant danger.

The only items he had to try to protect the victim and himself, and control the dangerous dog, were a dog pole and PSU shield. PC O’Brien was still at significant risk of harm because the out-of-control dog was running around and was itself badly injured as a result of members of the public trying to halt its attack.

The dog was extremely aggressive and unpredictable. He placed himself between the injured woman and the dangerous dog, creating a sterile area allowing other officers to provide emergency first aid and remove the victim to a place of safety.

He managed to secure the dog using the dog pole and was able to move it further away from the victim and officers, ensuring their safety and enabling the evacuation of the casualty.

Both victims were taken to hospital with serious injuries which were later thankfully confirmed as not life changing.

Chair of Northamptonshire Police Federation Sam Dobbs has praised Matt for his ‘exceptionally courageous actions’.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced a serious incident involving a dangerous, out-of-control dog in Daventry and I recognise that those incidents are still very much felt by the community, as well as our officers,” said Sam, adding: “What's more, we are all very much aware of the potential danger and risk that can be caused in these situations. 

“Despite this, Matt put his own life on the line that day. He came face-to-face with danger, and in true policing style, prioritised the safety of the public instead of his own.

“His actions undoubtedly saved the lives of both the young girl and the woman. 

“Everyone here at Northamptonshire Police Federation is extremely proud of Matt and wishes him the best of luck at this year’s awards.”

Northamptonshire Police’s Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet said: “I am very proud to see PC Matt O’Brien nominated for this award.

“Matt’s quick thinking and decisive actions when attending this distressing unfolding incident ensured essential medical care could swiftly be given to a seriously injured woman.

“At no small risk to himself, Matt put himself between the casualty and a dog that was clearly dangerous, going on to secure it with the limited means at his disposal and demonstrating true courage and bravery in the service of his community.

“I wish Matt all the best for the awards – he would be a worthy winner and embodies the selfless bravery shown day in, day out, by police officers across the country.”

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