Police Federation


Essex Police has nominated eight officers from four highly skilled Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) teams, for the National Police Bravery Awards 2023.

The officers safely stopped and detained a man who had been seen with what appeared to be a gun and a tactical vest loaded with explosives following a high-speed car chase.

On 21 December 2021, the suspect had drawn the gun at a petrol station before fleeing in his car. Arriving at the scene, the officers found live ammunition and began the search for the man and his car.

Whilst work commenced to develop intelligence on the suspect, his car was spotted by another Essex Police ARV team and authority was given to stop and detain him. He was driving erratically and at a high speed, posing a threat to members of the public and those in pursuit. The officers closed-in on the suspect’s car and could see him brandishing the gun in their direction.

As the ARV teams prepared to carry out an enforced stop on the vehicle, the firearms Commander withdrew the firearms authority. Due to the dynamic nature of the incident, there was insufficient time to give the full context for this decision to the officers involved in the pursuit.

This order came just when the officers identified a location to perform an enforced stop. Putting the safety of the public before the concerns for their own safety, they used tactical contact to bring the suspect’s car to a stop.

One of the ARV officers opened the passenger door of the suspect’s car to discover the man, who was wearing what appeared to be an explosives vest, pointing a gun directly at him. He immediately presented his Taser and challenged the suspect before another officer arrived at the other door of the suspect’s car, immediately seeing the gun being brandished at their colleague

A third officer, who had by then reached into the suspect’s car to assist his colleagues, grabbed the gun from the man’s hand. At the same time, the officer who had the gun pointed at him leaned into the car and pulled the suspect out, with the help of colleagues.

Although the officers could not have known at the time the firearms Commander had received new information that led them to believe the suspect was in possession of an imitation firearm and explosives. To them, given the fast-moving pace of the incident, they were pursuing someone who they believed was armed and dangerous.

Reflecting on the operation, Chair of Essex Police Federation, Laura Heggie, said:

“These officers demonstrated the utmost professionalism in what was a fast-paced incident where they had a lot to contend with.

“They coped brilliantly with a dynamic situation with changing information, as is often the case when responding to calls for help.

“Even so, the officers had no choice but to bring the vehicle to a stop and apprehend the suspect. To then have a gun pointed at them and to then see the suspect reveal an apparent explosives vest would have led many people to hold-back or to hesitate while more information and support became available. They did not hesitate. They remained calm, trusted in their training, and worked as a team to bring the incident to a successful and safe conclusion.

“We are all very proud of them.”

Unit Inspector Andy Watkins commented:

“This team worked together under immense pressure, facing great danger to themselves and the public whilst looking after each other. They displayed confidence in the Tactical Firearms Commander’s assessment which no doubt led to the safe arrest of the subject without recourse to lethal force.”

Essex Police Chief Constable BJ Harrington QPM said:

“This was a brave and outstanding act by colleagues who, yet again, put the safety of the people of Essex first. They detained a dangerous suspect thanks to their decisive action, specialist training, inspiring teamwork, and professionalism.”

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