Police officers honoured for response to axe attack on colleague in Sheffield

PC Dan Fox
PC Dan Fox
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A brave bobby bitten by an attacker who left another officer for dead and who arrested a man armed with a machete has been honoured for his crime fighting efforts.

PC Dan Fox, aged 25, won the Student Officer of the Year accolade at a police award ceremony for his efforts during a two year probationary period in which he detected 49 crimes and made 107 arrests for offences including murder and rape.

Insp Neil Mutch

Insp Neil Mutch

He was part of the team which responded to reports of a man armed with an axe attacking officers dealing with a domestic incident in Gleadless Valley, last year.

His colleague, Lisa Bates, was left for dead after suffering a fractured skull in the attack. She also broke a leg as she jumped down a staircase in a desperate bid to escape.

Nominating him for the award, a colleague said: "Dan was one of the first officers on the scene of the horrific attack on his colleague and displayed commendable bravery when confronting the offender, showing scant regard for his own safety and playing a key role in the successful detention despite suffering an injury when he was severely bitten during his efforts to restrain him."

He was also praised for his efforts to detain a man armed with a machete who barricaded himself in a house and made threats to police officers.

His colleague said: "Dan remained calm in the face of significant hostility and was able to develop a rapport with the male, demonstrating exceptional communication skills to negotiate his safe surrender and detention."

BACKGROUND:

Sheffield police officers who have gone the extra mile, risked their lives to protect others and solved major crimes have been honoured at an awards ceremony.

Recognising officers ranging from those who have clocked up 30 years' service to the new generation of frontline officers at the start of their careers, the award ceremony shone the light on teams and bobbies who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Superintendent Simon Wanless, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "It allowed us an opportunity to celebrate and honour our officers and staff who go above and beyond on a daily basis to serve the communities of Sheffield.

"We heard stories of great compassion and empathy for some of the most vulnerable people we help day in, day out, as well as stories of courage and bravery shown by officers in the face of serious danger.

"I offer my heartfelt thanks to all officers and staff working in Sheffield and beyond, many of whom complete their work with no expectation of thanks or recognition. Awards ceremonies such as this give us a chance to recognise your hard work and share your successes."

The attack on PC Lisa Bates and her colleague Mark Garrett, who was also assaulted by Nathan Sumner during the incident in Gleadless last April, featured in three of the awards.

In addition to PC Dan Fox being recognised for his efforts to detain Sumner, despite being bitten, the Woodseats officers on duty that night won the Local Policing Team of the Year award for their efforts at the scene and over the months which followed.

Hero Simon Ellis, a member of the public who dragged PC Bates to the safety of his flat despite the risk to himself, won a special Humanitarian Award for his life-saving actions.

Sumner, who was jailed for 15 years after being found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, fled to a nearby supermarket after the attack, where PC Fox was bitten on his arm as he tried to apprehend him.

But instead of making him question his new career choice, PC Fox said the incident made him more determined to succeed.

"It was a very traumatic incident at the time for everyone but we were pleased with the result at court and that Lisa is now making a recovery," he said.

"You expect a certain level of opposition and violence in this job but not to that level - it was an awful experience. I was a probationary officer at the time but it didn't put me off, it had the opposite effect and spurred me on even more."

Another officer honoured at Friday night's ceremony was Josh Rowley, who was handed the PCSO of the Year award.

He saved the life of a man who was threatening to jump from the bridge over the Park Square roundabout in Sheffield city centre on Christmas Eve.

PCSO Rowley arrived to find the man hanging backwards on the wrong side of the railings facing down into the busy road below.

A colleague who nominated the PCSO for the award said that when efforts to talk him down failed, he 'made the brave and selfless decision' to grab hold of the man and pull him back over the railings to the safety of the bridge.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Inspector Neil Mutch, who is hanging up his uniform in June after nearly 30 years in the job.

Starting out as a bobby on the beat in Norfolk Park with 'nothing but a tunic, a big hat and wooden truncheon,' Insp Mutch said policing has 'changed beyond all recognition' over the last three decades 'for the better'.

Cyber crime was unheard of, gun crime was rare and the equipment provided to bobbies was minimal.

But he said what has remained constant is that officers join the service 'to look out for other people who can't look out for themselves and to help make the place better'.

Insp Much, who is known for developing close links between the police and other agencies to find long terms solutions to issues in Sheffield city centre, also spent time in charge of operational planning for major events such as demonstrations and football matches.

He was also tasked with co-ordinating the security arrangements for The Queen's visit to Sheffield for a service at Sheffield Cathedral in April 2015.

"I lost a lot of sleep over that, but it was one of the highlights of my career," he said.

He said developing partnerships has been key in the face of South Yorkshire Police losing around 1,000 police officers over recent years because of budget cuts.

"We all have different powers, skills and knowledge and when you combine then all that's when I think you make the most difference and that's what the police service is going to have to continue to do," he said.

"I would still recommend the police as a career because you come to work never knowing what you are going to be doing and although not everyone always agrees you are always doing something for the general good and trying to make South Yorkshire a better place.

"I am honoured to receive this award - to be recognised by your peers means a lot."

The Individual Achievement Award went to DC Ian Chamberlain who works in public protection and was behind the force's first ever prosecution for coercive control - a form of domestic abuse where offenders restrict their victim's movements.

His nomination said he shows 'professionalism, dedication, commitment to public service and to keeping people safe' in 'one of the most challenging areas of policing'.

His team is responsible for the investigation of domestic abuse, rape, honour based violence and forced marriage.

OTHER AWARDS:

* Special of the Year - the South East Sheffield local police team's special constables for their commitment to community policing.

* Community Focus Award - missing persons officers PCs Pete Roche, Pam Canagan and Tina Mayer.

* Individual Achievement - Sgt Matt Burdett for his work making Sheffield city centre safer at night.

* Trevor Harvey Investigation Award - Sheffield South East local policing team and officers responsible for investigating the attempted rape of a woman in Handsworth.

* Officer of the Year - DC John Briers