PC Daniel Stride was on patrol with a colleague when a report came through about a suspected burglary in Ashford on 1 June 2018.
As the officers arrived at the property, it was in complete darkness, and after searching the gardens and around some of the premises nearby the officers could still not see any signs of disturbance.
At this stage one of PC Stride’s colleagues – PC Krzysztof Maciolek – had found the informant who insisted that his multi-occupancy property was being broken into. The man, Sean Higgins, said he suffered from psychosis, was a drug user and that he was hearing voices when nobody was present in other rooms of the property.
PC Stride knew Higgins from his childhood and rang his brother who said Higgins suffered from mental health issues and that he was using cocaine, something Higgins confirmed when asked by the officers.
They were both concerned that Higgins might suffer an overdose and given his mental state of health they decided to call an ambulance which PC Maciolek did from outside the building due to the weak signal inside.
PC Stride stayed with Higgins, and the pair went to his bedroom where he became increasingly erratic and paranoid.
Higgins pulled a large kitchen knife from his bedside drawer. He had shown no sign of aggression previously, but suddenly the mood in the small bedroom changed.
PC Stride knew he couldn’t turn his back on Higgins so asked him to hand over the knife which he refused to do. He then went to stab the officer who managed to shout for assistance before grappling with Higgins.
In the melee PC Stride was stabbed twice in the chest just catching his body armour. PC Stride couldn’t free his hands to get to his protective equipment to help neutralise the offender and had to continue wrestling with Higgins.
After pushing the knife away again, Higgins aimed the blade at the officer’s inner thigh who was shouting that he didn’t have to do this and to remind his attacker that he was a police officer.
Rather than risk a potentially life-ending arterial bleed PC Stride decided to grab the knife… as the blade cut into his fingers, he managed to pin it and his assailant to the bed.
Both men were tiring, and PC Stride managed to pry the knife away and held it behind his back. PC Maciolek then entered the room and together the officers got Higgins under control. Given his exertions, Higgins was severely out of breath and despite the fact he had tried to harm him, the PC still gave him first aid care.
All in all, the horrific struggle had lasted two minutes, and incredibly PC Stride suffered only deep cuts to his hand.
Higgins was imprisoned for nine years with an extended sentence of three years on license for attempted GBH with intent.
He had previously been convicted on the same charge back in 2003.
PC Stride said: “I only did what any police officer would do in the same circumstances, but it does go to show the kinds of incidents we have to go through in the line of duty.
“When the guy came for me with a knife, I had a million thoughts going through my mind – whether I’d survive the incident or not. And things like will I see my family again? That was a big thought in my mind at the time.
“When he attacked me with a knife, I felt two plunges into my stab vest on the upper chest – I was quite lucky because an inch higher and that could have been a fatal wound. It was a very serious situation.”
He added: “I’m very honoured to receive the National Police Bravery Awards nomination for Kent.”
Kent Police Federation Chairman Neil Mennie said PC Stride was a credit to policing.
“All the way through this horrific incident, Daniel had one thought in his mind, the welfare of his assailant.
“That’s to his enormous credit. Daniel thought at one stage he was going to die, but he carried on, incredibly bravely getting Higgins under control and trying to stop him from harming himself.
“He showed not just policing skill but unbelievable courage and determination. He’s a credit to Kent Police, and we are extremely proud of him.”
The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
As a nominee, PC Stride will attend a prestigious daytime reception and evening awards ceremony in London in July 2021. The 2020 event – the 25th National Police Bravery Awards – had been scheduled to take place this past summer but had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.
Nevertheless the Police Federation of England and Wales wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the fantastic work of all 94 nominees from across the country online from today (September 24).
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are incredibly proud of all the nominees from across England and Wales. The actions of these courageous officers provide a small snapshot of the amazing work our colleagues carry out day in and day out.
“PC Stride showed incredible bravery in this incident. Sadly too many officers are injured in the course of their duties. And this shows how incidents can escalate quickly. But it’s pleasing this incident had a good conclusion. PC Stride is a credit to policing.
“As a Police Federation, we wanted to make sure these brave officers received the recognition they deserve in the year their actions were meant to be celebrated. And we look forward to seeing them all in person – and revealing regional and national winners – when the time is right in 2021.”
The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.
John Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Police Mutual, said: “Police Mutual is, as always, proud to be supporting the National Police Bravery Awards in its 25th anniversary year. Despite having to postpone the original ceremony, the officers’ courage has never been forgotten – they all showed commitment to keeping the public safe in the most demanding of circumstances.
“We very much look forward to meeting all the nominated officers in July 2021 for the ceremony, and our chance to give our thanks in person.”