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Sussex Police Federation

A team of Sussex Police officers have been nominated for the 2021 National Police Bravery Awards

3 November 2021

A Sussex Police officer who was stabbed on duty - and the officers who came to his rescue - have been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.

PC Richard Bligh, PC Steven Green and PC Stacey Soffe were carrying out a welfare check in Eastbourne in the early hours of Wednesday 14 September last year when their car was approached by a man brandishing a knife.

PC Bligh got out of the car to try to talk to him after he started banging on the window. The man, who had been acting strangely and had a “demonic” smile on his face, immediately lunged and stabbed PC Bligh in the leg.

PC Green and PC Soffe - who were in their probation period at the time - quickly got out of the car and pulled the man to the ground, with PC Green using Captor spray while the assailant laughed at the officers.

As the two officers restrained the knifeman, PC Bligh began to feel bleeding, and fearing that his femoral artery had been cut, he dragged himself away to elevate his leg. PC Green came to help while PC Bligh used his trouser belt as a tourniquet.

Assistance soon arrived and PC Bligh was taken to hospital where he received ten stitches and made a full physical recovery - but he is sadly left with permanent scars.

Paul Cunningham, of Pevensey Road, Eastbourne, was jailed for seven and a half years in May 2021 for the attack, which was the result of a long-held vendetta. He had told officers he wanted to “kill all police”.

PC Bligh added: “I have no doubt that the actions of my two colleagues in the car that night prevented me from being injured further. They prevented my attacker from continuing to stab me. I am damn sure that they saved my life."

The officers received a Chief Constable’s Commendation for their brave and calm response to the attack.

Sussex Police Federation Chair Daren Egan said he was incredibly proud of the three officers and their work that day.

Daren said: “You never know what incident you are walking into – or will be running towards - when you put on your police uniform. Thankfully, Richard was not more seriously hurt but it could have been much worse.

“This shows the dangers officers face. It went from zero to 100 in a split second but despite a hideous attack, our colleagues apprehended the offender and stopped him causing harm to anyone else. 

“Steven and Stacey deserve credit for the calm and decisive way they acted, despite being so young in service. They are a credit to the uniform. I would like to praise these three officers for going above and beyond to protect the public of Sussex – and each other.”

Insp Steve Shimmons added: “This incident was completely out of the blue. The officers had been going about their normal duties when this male sought to engage with them. It was clear his intention was to try and kill PC Bligh, or any officer he came into contact with and if it had not been for the swift actions of all three officers then this could have ended in a very different way.”

The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

As nominees, PC Bligh, PC Green and PC Soffe will join colleagues from across the country at the prestigious 2021 National Police Bravery Awards in December.

The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.