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Officers nominated for national bravery award

Two unarmed police officers who tackled a man believed to be carrying a firearm in Bristol last year have been nominated for an award for their outstanding bravery.

PC Dean Sobey and PC Rowan Birch were on patrol when a man threatened a woman in the early hours of Sunday 15 September 2019. The offender fled the scene in Nelson Street but was chased by the officers who were able to wrestle him to the ground and detain him.

It was only after he was arrested that it became clear the firearm he was carrying was an imitation.

It transpired the offender had committed a robbery in the city three months before and had been jailed in his homeland for a similar offence. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison in March this year for robbery and carrying an imitation firearm to cause alarm.

PC Sobey and PC Birch were due to attend the National Police Bravery Awards ceremony in London this summer, but the event has been postponed until July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Edgington, head of patrol, said: “Both officers showed outstanding levels of bravery on the night.

“Their first and foremost thought was that they wanted to protect the victim, and any other members of public in the vicinity, from a dangerous man who we had been told was carrying a gun.

“Their actions were incredibly courageous and they both are deservedly nominated for this award.”

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens added: “I am delighted that these two exceptional officers have been nominated for the National Police Bravery Award.

“It’s important that we never forget that officers put their lives on the line every day to keep local people safe. PC Sobey and PC Birch showed extraordinary bravery in an incredibly dangerous situation.

“The police and I am very proud of their outstanding actions and professionalism.”

Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chairman Andy Roebuck said the officers had to react to the situation quickly knowing that the man posed a significant threat to the community – and that they would have had no idea that the gun was not real.

“Both officers put the safety and care of the victim and the public of Avon and Somerset first,” he said.

“Dean and Rowan acted with incredible courage and professionalism to confront this man – remembering they, like most colleagues in this country, are unarmed.

“The officers knew that they had to detain this man – the potential for him to commit a really heinous crime was very real. And they did so quickly and decisively.

“We are very proud of them both.”