Bravery awards for officers

THREE Ipswich-based British Transport police officers' are to receive commendations after quelling a pitched battle while under a barrage of bricks.They were among only seven officers who drove hundreds of rioting football fans back while trying to keep the warring factions apart.

THREE Ipswich-based British Transport police officers' are to receive commendations after quelling a pitched battle while under a barrage of bricks.

They were among only seven officers who drove hundreds of rioting football fans back while trying to keep the warring factions apart.

The rioting was so fierce, it was described by their sergeant the worst football-related violence he had seen in more than 20 years service.

Constables Steve Woods, Dave Vint and Paul Thompson, have been cited for exceptional courage.


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They will be presented with commendations tomorrow at a ceremony in London.

The three officers were among seven BTP policemen who kept around 300 Chelsea supporters at bay during a confrontation with Tottenham Hotspur fans.

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Sergeant Bob Munn, who led his officers that day and recommended them for commendations, said: "Their courage, professionalism and restraint were outstanding. They were very impressive and I am very proud of them.

"It is the worst football-related violence I have seen in 22 years in the force, including when I worked in London in the early 1980s when football violence was particularly prevalent.

"The bricks were denting the pavement when they were landing. There was real malice, but the officers had no thought for their own safety."

The four Ipswich officers were in London to arrest a suspected football hooligan who had allegedly been involved in a punch-up in Ipswich after a game.

As the officers left White Hart Lane at the end of the Tottenham v Chelsea match in March 2002 they found themselves involved in a riot while looking for their suspect.

They responded to an emergency call from a BTP dog handler Pc Steve Madden.

Pc Madden and two colleagues were only a few cars ahead of the Ipswich quartet. Despite having only having batons for protection they ran to help.

When they arrived they found hundreds of Chelsea fans hurling bricks and bottles at Tottenham supporters.

The seven officers baton-charged the yobs, driving them back along Tottenham High Road for the best part of two miles, Sgt Munn said. As they repelled the hooligans more bricks from nearby pavement work, and glass rained down.

Sgt Munn said: "There were six feet high piles of bricks every ten to 15 yards. They threw nearly all of them. The road was just strewn with bricks. Over a period of 20 minutes we pushed about 300 fans along the length of Tottenham High Road while under a barrage of bricks and bottles. We managed to keep the fans apart until we were relieved by officers in full protective riot clothing."

It is the second time Pc Woods has been honoured for his bravery. Previously he had kept a horde of rampaging Reading fans at bay with only his baton for protection. The incident occurred in a carriage of a high-speed train while a colleague arrested a supporter after a game at Colchester.

The citation reads:

"The officers are commended for their actions on 10th March 2002, during an

incident at Bruce Grove Railway Station. Whilst on mobile patrol with six

other officers (seven in total), they saw a group of Tottenham and Chelsea

football fans fighting outside the station.

Although not wearing protective equipment they drew their batons, separated

the fans into two groups, all the time coming under intense missile attack.

They were joined by Metropolitan Police officers in full protective

equipment. At the request of the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) Senior

Commander the officers maintained one flank of the police line until

relieved.

The officers displayed exceptional courage, dedication and restraint,

preventing a far more serious outbreak of public disorder."

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