The efforts of two courageous Met officers were recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony in central London last night.
The 24th Police Federation Bravery Awards took place on Thursday, 18 July at The Royal Lancaster Hotel. The nominees were shortlisted for acts of bravery that took place from March 2018 to March 2019.
Sergeant Stevie Bull, Central North Command Unit (Camden and Islington) and PC Neil Dobson, South-East Dog Support Unit were shortlisted for this year’s event, which saw 71 officers nominated from 40 police forces go head to head for the overall award and regional awards.
Stevie, who was the winner of this year’s Met Excellence Awards’ Bravery Category, was nominated after she showed courage and bravery in the face of extreme threat when she unexpectedly confronted a man with a suspected firearm in a hospital.
Stevie, who was a PC at the time, became aware of an incident unfolding at University College Hospital in March 2018 where she was working on an unrelated case. A suspect was threatening staff with a firearm and, without concern for her own safety, Stevie acted on instinct and put herself between the suspect and the hospital staff, helping to protect them and divert the gunman’s attention.
Stevie closed the gap between herself and the suspect, giving clear commands to put down the weapon. When he refused, she attempted to grab it. In the struggle, she sustained a head injury after being thrown into a wall, but she continued to tackle the suspect, wrestling the gun from his hands, handcuffing and arresting him.
The firearm was later found to be a starter pistol, however Stevie didn’t know this at the time of her heroic actions.
Stevie, who is now a sergeant on the Central East Command Unit (Hackney and Tower Hamlets) said: “If I was faced with the same situation again I would do exactly the same thing. I wouldn’t change it and my colleagues would do the same thing as well. I didn’t really think about my own safety, I just acted on instinct.”
Speaking about being nominated and shortlisted as a finalist, Stevie said: “I am incredibly touched that people who don’t know me have nominated me for an award, both within the policing world and for the public votes I received. It has been a real honour to be nominated and to see the great work of other individuals."
The Met’s second finalist was PC Neil Dobson. Neil was nominated for saving seven people from dying in a burning building.
Neil was conducting an arrest enquiry with his dog Monty and colleagues from Operation Viper in May 2018 when they were made aware of a fire in a nearby building in London Road, Croydon, by a member of the public.
Upon approaching the premises, they could hear someone trapped inside shouting for help. The basement flat was full of thick black smoke with the door locked from the inside.
Neil tied up Monty, and with no thought for his own safety, he rushed into the building and to the residents' aid.
He and his colleagues gained entry and systematically cleared every flat over three floors. They went in again and again, and despite suffering injuries from opening the doors and it becoming difficult to breathe, the officers continued until everyone was brought to safety. Amongst those rescued was a man found collapsed in the hallway and several families with small children; in one case a young baby. No resident was injured.
Without Neil’s thought for the vulnerable, sleeping people inside and the quick action he took, the incident could have easily spiralled into tragedy.
The incident was captured on body-worn video and it’s evident that Neil and his colleagues showed huge courage and saved lives that day
PC Dobson said: “When you’re dealing with an incident like that there wasn’t really much time to think about it, you just go in. You get the job done, there isn’t much time for fear or anything like that at all.”
Speaking about being nominated, Neil said: “At the time, we were simply doing our job to preserve life. It wasn’t until afterwards that you realise how things could have gone very wrong for us entering the building. It’s nice to be nominated for an award, but my reward came in the fact no one was seriously injured and everyone got out safely.”
The Overall Award went to PC Andrew Dear from Warwickshire Police who risked his own safety to save a person seriously injured in a road traffic collision.
The Region 8 (London) winner was DC Joby Reeve from City of London Police who was stabbed when he intervened in a robbery while he was off-duty.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “These awards highlight the incredible bravery that officers protecting our country show every single day. I am immensely proud to have shared this day with such humble and brave officers and their families. They are a credit to the service and I am proud to call them colleagues.”
Before the ceremony, Stevie, Neil and the 69 other nominees attended a special reception at 10 Downing Street hosted by Prime Minster Theresa May.
She said: “Time and time again our police officers put their lives on the line for our country, displaying incredible bravery and courage.
“Their everyday acts of heroism do not go unnoticed, and I would like to extend my profound gratitude to all the nominees, and officers around the country, for their unwavering commitment to keeping our communities safe.”