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Aviemore police officer hailed a hero for tackling armed man by A95


By Val Sweeney

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BRAVE OFFICER: Paul Phillips (centre) receives the Individual Bravery Award from David Kennedy, general secretary of the SPF, and event host Amy Irons. Picture: Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com
BRAVE OFFICER: Paul Phillips (centre) receives the Individual Bravery Award from David Kennedy, general secretary of the SPF, and event host Amy Irons. Picture: Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com

An Aviemore police officer who put his own life in danger to tackle an armed man while off duty has won a top bravery award.

PC Paul Phillips was travelling home in the strath with his young family when he leapt out of the car to tackle the man who subsequently threatened to stab him.

His actions won him the Individual Bravery Award this year’s Scottish Police Federation (SPF) Awards to celebrate officers’ life-saving acts of bravery and commitment to their communities.

The 43-year-old officer has relived the incident which happened in April, last year, after his wife and their two young sons had picked him up after he had finished a shift.

They were were travelling along the A95 Aviemore-Grantown road when his wife alerted him to slowing traffic and then a man with what appeared to be a pole or shovel.

PC Phillips, who has 19 years’ service including 10 years with the Tayside force, immediately got out.

“I told my good lady to lock the doors and just drive,” he recalled.

“That’s when I looked around and discovered the guy was holding a kitchen knife.”

The police officer set about trying to stop cars and also speak to the man.

“There was a bit of a stand off,” he said. “He threatened to stab me with the knife. But he also held the knife to his own throat.

“Then something just clicked and he started to listen to me.

“I asked him some questions and got him to sit on the carriageway but I couldn’t get him to give up the knife.”

The man then got up and started to walk towards Aviemore but was persuaded to sit down again.

Eventually, police officers arrived at the scene and he agreed to give up the knife and was handcuffed.

PAUL PHILLIPS: 'He didn’t hesitate to still protect the public'. Picture: Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com
PAUL PHILLIPS: 'He didn’t hesitate to still protect the public'. Picture: Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com

“I was alone with him for about 10 minutes,” reflected PC Phillips. “It is a long time to be with someone in that situation with a knife. I had no protection.

“I have thought about it since. In my own head, I cannot get the balance on whether it was brave or stupid.

“I have been in the job long enough to know it was pretty dangerous but at the end of the day I was going to do it – someone had to do it.

“It was a unique situation and it needed quick-thinking, a strong mentality and a strong persona to get the guy’s attention and make sure he was focused on me and no one else.”

Afterwards, PC Phillips had to walk two miles to the car and calm down his two sons.

“They had heard the sirens and thought it was an ambulance and that their daddy had been injured,” he said.

The man was causing such alarm that several different members of the public had phoned the police.

PC Phillips had gotten out the vehicle then instructed his family to carry on driving with the doors locked.

Even though he was off-duty, he continued to assist when other officers arrived.

PC Phillips was nominated for the Individual Bravery Award by SPF representative Caroline Macnaughton.

“He didn’t hesitate to still protect the public even with his family present – he realised the wider risk to those around him,” Ms Macnaughton said.

“He put others before himself by putting himself in a direct line of risk.”

PC Phillips was one of 20 officers who were shortlisted for the SPF’s annual awards in five categories which were announced at the ceremony at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on Thursday (November 23).

Scottish Police Federation chairman David Threadgold said the awards were designed to recognise and celebrate the individual and team acts of bravery and dedication to communities seen day in, day out in policing.

The prizes were presented by Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell, Justice Secretary Angela Constance, SPF chair David Threadgold, SPA chair Martyn Evans, and Les Gray from sponsors Philip Williams.

In his spare time, PC Phillips coaches under 10s football in Aviemore and Grantown.


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