Commendation for off-duty officer who chased armed suspect in Southend

Mick Ferris
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An off-duty officer having lunch in Southend with a friend leapt into action when he saw two men and a youth armed with machetes chasing another youth.

Now Detective Constable Scott Johnson has been commended by Essex Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington for his bravery and determination which led to all three suspects being safely detained.

Two men were subsequently jailed for a total of 25 months in relation to the incident and a youth made subject of a community order.

Mr Harrington said: “Chasing three men armed with machetes is very brave and the fact that Scott was off-duty and on his own when he started to pursue them is especially courageous. It is a fantastic example of how police officers run towards danger when others are running away.

“I have no doubt that Scott prevented the intended victim from being seriously injured or worse, on that day.

“His actions directly resulted in the arrest of three dangerous individuals, who have since been dealt with by the courts, with two being jailed for the offences they committed.”

Scott, a detective with the Metropolitan Police, was eating lunch in Chalkwell Park on February 28, 2021 when he noticed the youth being chased. Initially, he says he thought ‘is this really happening in this area?’

“Chalkwell is generally a very safe place so I was a bit shocked but then my instincts kicked in. As they ran past, I stopped one to ask what was going on and he said a few choice words before he ran for it. I grabbed my friend’s phone as I’d left mine at home and rang 999.

“At first they ran together but then they split and I kept up with the one I’d initially talked to.

“We ran up and down a lot of roads in Westcliff – he tried to get into a car at one point but I shouted at the driver ‘do not let him in your car!’

“All the time this was going on, I was on the line to the Essex Force Control Room giving directions and updates.

“I didn’t want to engage with him because I’d seen him ditch the machete but I didn’t know whether he’d got another, so I kept my distance to keep safe but he was always in my sight.

“I run all the time so he was never going to get away from me. I run 10k three or four times a week and generally keep fit.

“We ran all the way to Southend United. He was so tired at the end, he collapsed outside the Co-Op on London Road. He was absolutely shattered.”

Thanks to Scott’s running commentary, Essex officers were quickly able to locate him and the suspects. They arrested the first two and then, as Scott pursued the third, another car was deployed and he was arrested. Scott then assisted an Essex Police dog handler to look for the machete the man had thrown away during Scott’s pursuit.

Scott says: “On or off duty, you’ve always got to do something. If I’d ignored it, the youth they were chasing could have been stabbed. It comes with the job and, of course, it’s nice when you get justice.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk