SPF Awards 2023

The Scottish Police Federation Awards took place in Edinburgh on 23 November, celebrating officers’ life-saving acts of bravery and commitment to their communities. 

Winning the Individual Bravery Award was Inverness officer PC Paul Phillips, who was driving home with his young family when he leapt out of their car to tackle an armed man. Unbeknown to him at the time, several members of the public had phoned the police to raise the alarm about the man’s behaviour.  

Without a second’s thought, PC Phillips got out of his vehicle and instructed his family to carry on driving and lock the doors. He successfully negotiated with the man, who threatened to stab him during the incident, and engaged with him until colleagues arrived to safely apprehend him.  

The winner of the Community Commitment Award was PC Laura Evans. PC Evans was formerly an Inspector, but after she was injured in a car crash she took a demotion and relocated to the rural community of Dunoon. She now devotes her time to helping elderly and vulnerable people in her new patch. 

PC Evans has undertaken a range of new initiatives to help rural communities, including training more than 60 local officers in how to work more closely with mental health services; securing funding for ‘dementia tags’ to protect those living with the illness in remote places; and arranging for vulnerable people in the area to get call-blocking devices to safeguard them from scams. 

The Unsung Hero Award goes to Sergeant Christopher Taggart, an expert negotiator who has saved lives through his hard work and compassion. Sgt Taggart has successfully intervened in dozens of incidents and is called upon across Glasgow to help vulnerable people in tense situations. 

While doing his day job, which includes being a supervisor to 20 officers, he is able to recognise incidents where there is concern for an individual, and where his expertise could help. Colleagues say he is often deployed as a negotiator on his days off, including through the night. 

The Cops’ Cop of the Year Award was presented to PC Christopher Pemberton, a long-serving officer in Edinburgh with an “unrivalled” work ethic. PC Pemberton helps his colleagues with everything from fitness to mortgage applications.  

Fellow officers know about PC Pemberton’s maths skills, so he is regularly on hand to help them navigate complex financial applications. He also has a huge commitment to fitness and helps motivate and guide his colleagues to achieve personal exercise goals. 

Lastly, Scottish Police Federation Chair David Threadgold presented the special Chair’s Award to Gary Thwaite, Chief Executive of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, and Stuart Cowan, National Chair of the British Transport Police Federation.  

David praised Gary and Stuart’s epic 500km Blue Light Hike from Cumbria to West Dulwich this summer, which raised more than £16,000 for PTSD999, a not-for-profit organisation that supports emergency services workers with their mental health. The officers averaged 50,000 steps a day in challenging weather.  

Speaking at the Awards, David Threadgold said: “Our annual awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the individual and team acts of bravery and dedication to our communities that we see day in, day out in policing. 

“We are incredibly proud of all our nominees, and while there can only be one winner in each category, we are grateful to each of them for their amazing achievements. 

“Police officers continue to face unprecedented challenges, but these awards are an opportunity to pause and reflect on the fantastic work that they do. These stories reflect what being a police officer is all about.”