Northamptonshire Police officers nominated for national bravery award
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Two Northamptonshire Police officers who ignored their own injuries to help others after a suspected acid attack have been nominated for a prestigious Police Bravery Award.
PCs Victoria Ballantyne and Karen Canwell are among this year’s nominees at the 24th Police Bravery Awards in London on Thursday, July 18, following an incident in Northampton.
The officers were on duty in the early hours of July 23, 2017 when they saw two groups of men squaring up to each other inside McDonalds in the Drapery in the town centre.
The groups were very aggressive and verbally abused PC Canwell, who put herself between the two opposing gangs as she tried to remove one of them from the fast food restaurant.
Following an argument, one gang left the scene, before returning with bottles and spraying the contents, which was initially thought to be acid but later identified as ammonia.
The group sprayed the chemical indiscriminately towards the opposing gang with no thought for anyone else, and the officer’s body worn video footage shows panic from members of the public who had also been severely affected.
Both officers ignored their own injuries and immediately went to their assistance, and despite PC Ballantyne’s discomfort she chased after the offenders but had to stop because of her physical state.
She returned to the scene and found water to tend to a member of public who had been seriously affected by the attack and gave first aid, reassured the victim and minimised the long-term effects of their injuries.
Along with two members of the public, the officers were injured by the effects of the ammonia discharge and required hospital treatment, although none sustained any lasting injuries.
PC Canwell, who is a Response Officer at Northampton, said: “I feel very humbled and honoured my colleague and I have been nominated for a Police Bravery Award.
“We all come to work with the intention of helping people and I would like to think that is what we did. I am just thankful no-one was more seriously injured as a result of this incident.”
The awards are held by the Police Federation of England and Wales and sponsored by Police Mutual to recognise police officers who perform outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
Jim Risby, Chair of Northamptonshire Police Federation, added: “The bravery and professionalism shown by PCs Ballantyne and Canwell went above and beyond the normal call of duty. They showed bravery in incredibly dangerous circumstances and I am delighted to support their nomination at the national awards.”
Three men from Wellingborough were convicted at Northampton Crown Court in January last year, after pleading guilty to four counts of administering a poison or noxious substance with intent to injure.
They were sentenced to a total of eight years and seven months in prison. Frank Taylor, aged 25, was jailed to two years and nine months, while Ijuha Sterling-Campbell, 21, and 22-year-old Jake Price each received two years and 11 months.