Off-duty officer hailed riots hero
A police officer has been hailed as a hero after confronting hooded youths during rioting while off duty and wearing no protective equipment.
Pc Andy Hewlett, who works as a safer schools officer with Scotland Yard, was returning to his Croydon home with his partner on Monday night when they saw that the local Argos store was being looted.
The 41-year-old, who served in the first Gulf war with the Royal Signals, dialled 999 and was told no-one was available - so decided to defend the store himself, with the help of his partner, who is not a police officer.
Pc Hewlett, who works in Lambeth, south London, and has been in the force for 18 years, said: "As a police officer you have a job to do, whether or not you're on duty. There was job to do that night that I felt I could and should do."
He blocked the doorway of Argos and challenged looters trying to enter the building, while yards away the House of Reeves furniture store was burning to the ground.
His partner Michael Bray, 52, took photographs of the looters which have now been passed to police.
Pc Hewlett and Mr Bray were outside the shop for about 90 minutes before they decided to leave when youths started throwing stones at them.
He said his army experience may have helped, but added: "It was so long ago that I think my police training was more at the front of my mind."
Asked why he had taken the decision to intervene, he said: "This is my community. This is where I live. I suppose seeing all of these youths running out of Argos, I was quite incensed that this was happening where I live. That spurred me into action."
Neither man was injured, but Pc Hewlett said he had been "very mindful" of his partner's safety as he is not from a police background and added: "We arranged a code word. If I said 'go', it was go."