Usually this type of call would be picked up by other units but they were dealing with another incident, that’s when my colleague and I were called to assist.
As we drove to Luton town centre our conversations focussed on how we were going to handle the situation and avoid causing alarm to shoppers. We liaised with the control room who were working with CCTV controllers to track the woman’s movements.
It was only when we entered the mall that the reality hit home. It was packed wall-to-wall with shoppers and children enjoying the school holidays. I suddenly realised what could happen and how many lives were at stake if things went badly.
Our presence caused a stir, which is what you’d expect when officers enter a shopping centre and rush through the crowds.
As we approached the woman we could see her hands and wrists and so decided to approach her quietly, each take an arm and avoid commotion.
As we did so she began to scream and although we were trying to keep her calm, members of the pubic became abusive and began to film us, unaware of the threat we were dealing with.
We confirmed the woman wasn’t carrying a detonator, and the more distressed she became, the more I began to think she may need mental health support. Keen to care for her, we took her to a local security office and made contact with our mental health triage team.
It’s afterwards that all the ‘what ifs’ cross your mind. What if there had been an explosive device, what if someone else had remotely detonated it? It’s not like these things don’t happen – we’ve all seen the news lately.
My wife was four months pregnant when this all took place, and I didn’t tell her about it for some time. I didn’t want to worry her.
It’s my job to protect the public, so when I was nominated for the Police Federation Bravery Awards I was surprised and humbled.
We got the chance to meet the Prime Minister and my wife had a good chuckle with her over their shoes sinking into the wet lawn at Number 10. We were treated like royalty and made to feel so special.
Although we didn’t win, just being in the same room with so many brave men and women confirmed why I wear my uniform with such pride.
I’m part of an amazing team and every one of us is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the public we serve.