Sgt Natalie Markham was the subject of a repeated knife attack by her assailant during the terrifying incident. Incredibly, despite being slashed to the stomach, she chased after the attacker for seven minutes and then later on carried on her shift as usual.
Sgt Markham said: “I’m overwhelmed and excited to be nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.
“It’s nice to know people actually still put you forward to say thanks really. Because sometimes, doing this job day in and day out and dealing with certain people, you don’t feel very appreciated if I’m honest. So it’s nice that it’s been appreciated.”
In October 2019 Sgt Markham – who was a PC at the time – was one of two officers responding to calls of a man causing a disturbance and making threats to stab and kill at a hostel in Clapham.
As Sgt Markham buzzed the door to gain access, she and her colleague PC Nej Diker discovered it was locked from the inside.
A man shortly came to the door and said staff were inside waiting for them. Thinking he was a member of staff, the officers walked past him, but were told he was the suspect they were looking for.
The officers found the man outside on the pavement smoking a cigarette. He told them hostel residents had been threatening to stab him.
He then threatened to eat the officers and became increasingly agitated before attempting to back away from them.
Julian Peters became agitated when he was told he couldn’t leave the scene, and as Sgt Markham attempted to stop him fleeing, he drew two large knives and slashed at her body armour and tried to stab her twice in her stomach.
Sgt Markham said: “I tried to detain him by holding his shoulder, and that is when he’s produced two knives from his back waistband, and swung at me probably about four or five times. I don’t really think it hit me till hours after.
“I drew my Taser and I gave him a red dot challenge, which, in my defense, was crazy considering he had just tried to stab me. So I could have just Tasered him straightaway, but I actually gave him the opportunity to drop the knives.”
When he would not comply, Sgt Markham fired her Taser, but Peters pulled out the barbs and made off across Clapham Common – posing a significant danger to many other people.
The two officers set off in pursuit before guiding in other teams to make the arrest on the common.
Sgt Markham added: “The aftermath of it was overwhelming from the amount of support you get from your colleagues and your bosses. That was very emotional. Just thinking back to, actually, what could have been… I could have died or something really serious could have happened.
“I would like to say that my guv’nor – Insp Miles Lawrie – was outstanding. The senior leadership team, at Brixton and Peckham couldn’t have been any better.”
Julian Peters was convicted of the attempted murder of Sgt Markham at Kingston Crown Court in December 2020 and sentenced to a Hospital Order.
Metropolitan Police Federation Chairman Ken Marsh said Sgt Markham showed amazing courage and tenacity in this incident.
“This was dynamic and dangerous incident which unfolded in a matter of seconds,” said Ken.
“Natalie realised Peters was a clear danger – it was only her body armour which prevented her from receiving serious injury – and in the best traditions of policing she was not going to let him get away and potentially harm a member of the public.
“What a fantastic police officer she is and a very worthy nominee. She’s shown real professionalism during what must have been a terrifying incident and we’re extremely proud of what Natalie did that day.”
The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
Sgt Markham will join colleagues from across the country at the prestigious 2021 National Police Bravery Awards in December.
The Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.