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18 July 2019
A Bedfordshire Police officer who single-handedly unarmed a woman who was waving a knife has won a prestigious Police Bravery Award.
PC Christopher Willcox-Cassidy was named as the Region 5 (South East) winner at the 24th national Police Bravery Awards on 18 July, hosted by the Police Federation of England and Wales. The awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour and recognise police officers who perform outstanding acts of bravery.
PC Willcox-Cassidy was on his own gathering a victim statement from a vulnerable woman after a domestic incident. She suddenly threatened to cut her own throat with a large kitchen knife and made swiping movements with the knife towards her husband and the officer.
PC Willcox-Cassidy grabbed her arm to stop her waving the knife and in the struggle the gas cooker was switched on. PC Willcox-Cassidy, who had 11 months service at the time, used his Pava spray twice, while ensuring that the lady’s husband was not close by. He kept talking and calmly asking her to let go of the knife, recognising that she was vulnerable.
Whilst PC Willcox-Cassidy was restraining the woman and updating the control room, he still had the foresight to ask the husband to turn off the gas. Eventually the knife was prised out of the woman’s hands.
PC Willcox-Cassidy later said: "It’s probably the quickest and longest five minutes that I’ve had in the police. I’d only been in 11 months and I think it was kind of the relief that the first major incident I’d dealt with on my own was out of the way and it’s kind of opened my eyes to what we do face and that I was on my own when I dealt with this. It does sound a bit weird, but the struggle wasn’t there of trying to protect myself, it was more about trying to protect her – protect her with her vulnerabilities.
"I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d stood there and waited for support to come… I’d definitely do it again if I had to."
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: "These awards highlight the incredible bravery that police officers show every single day. PC Willcox-Cassidy demonstrated outstanding courage and dedication, putting the lives of others before his own without a second thought."
John Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Police Mutual, said: "For the past 11 years, Police Mutual is proud to have sponsored such an inspiring event in the policing calendar. It is a privilege for my colleagues and I to be able to show our respect for the exceptional bravery shown by police officers who risk their lives every day to protect the public and keep us safe. We hope that we can continue to play our part in helping improve the lives of the police family."