Off-duty officer who arrested weapon-wielding offenders wins East of England Bravery Award

14 July 2016


An off-duty Norfolk officer, PC Stuart Watson, who arrested two weapon-wielding offenders, despite sustaining a blow to the head, was tonight named as the Region 4 (Eastern) winner at the 21st Police Bravery Award in London. The awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour and recognise police officers who perform outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

A typical trip to Tesco at Harford Bridge, Norwich, to do his shopping resulted in several arrests and a severe concussion for PC Watson in July 2015. As he parked he noticed a commotion and a car that had stopped in the middle of the roadway. As he approached he saw a man standing by the car brandishing a lump hammer and a woman in the front seat - both yelling abuse at a member of Tesco staff.

PC Watson quickly pulled the staff member out of the way and the offender climbed into the car. The officer opened the door and the man lunged forward, violently swinging the hammer at him, narrowly missing his face. PC Watson hit the man in the chest, causing him to fall back, allowing him an opportunity to remove the weapon. As he grappled with the offender the female passenger reached out of the car window and struck the officer over the head with a large spanner.

The blow to the head caused the officer to momentarily release his grip on the man, who took the opportunity to swing the lump hammer again. PC Watson continued to struggle with the man, eventually disarming, restraining and arresting him.

It later emerged that the two offenders had attempted to shoplift. The man was found guilty of affray and possessing an offensive weapon, while the woman was convicted for possessing an offensive weapon and assaulting a police officer. PC Watson suffered swelling, bruising and severe concussion.
PC Stuart Watson was awarded a Chief Constables’ Commendation for his bravery.

On receiving the award from Keith Vaz MP, PC Watson said: "I've had a fantastic day and this is the icing on the cake. It's a complete surprise and I'm very honoured to have been nominated for this. The incident was a bit of a shock after a night shift but the role of a police officer is 24 hours a day and if someone needs our help that's what we're there to do."

Eric Bradley, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: “It is events like these that show that police officers are never truly ‘off-duty’. PC Watson showed true bravery, injecting himself into a violent and dangerous situation, to ensure the safety of other members of the public. It is a pleasure to nominate him for this award, and the recognition he deserves.”

Simon Bailey, Chief Constable Norfolk Constabulary, said: “PC Watson was off duty, simply going shopping when he came across what was quite clearly a very nasty incident.  In the proudest traditions of the service, he put himself in danger to protect the public.”

Stephen Mann, CEO of Police Mutual, said: “Police Mutual is extremely proud to sponsor the Police Bravery Awards, especially on this important milestone of 21 years. The awards recognise the courage of police officers who face extremely challenging situations every day to keep the public safe. Our ongoing, long-term commitment to support these awards reflects the incredible respect we have for the work of the police service.”