Superintendent Gerry Richardson is remembered 50 years on after he was murdered during Blackpool armed robbery
Tributes have been paid to a Blackpool officer killed in the line of duty, as colleagues across the country mark the 50th anniversary of his death.
Superintendent Gerry Richardson’ remains as one of the highest-ranking officers to be murdered in the line of duty in Great Britain, after he was shot on August 23, 1971.
He was killed after he tackled a gunman after an armed robbery on a jewellery shop in the resort.
Officers were called to the store on The Strand when a manager pressed the emergency alarm during a raid by five masked men.
Supt Richardson and PC Carl Walker chased Joseph “Fat Freddie” Sewell on foot, ending up in a dead-end alleyway.
PC Walker was wounded in the thigh before Sewell shot Supt Richardson twice in the stomach as he tried to disarm him.
He died of his injuries later that day, the highest ranking officer to have been killed in the line of duty.
In 1972 he was posthumously awarded the George Cross.
Today, 50 years on, officers of all ranks remember the sacrifice he made and pay tribute to his bravery and selflessness.
CI Lee Wilson works in the force major investigation team at Blackpool’s West Division HQ, based on Gerry Richardson Way, named after the superintendent.
He paid honour to the fallen officer on behalf of all the resort’s police staff.
He said: “He was definitely a man ahead of his time. If you speak to people who served with him, they absolutely loved him. He was a proper human face of policing and as a boss and leader he was inspirational and he cared.
“He took the time to get to know his people and I think he is the kind of leader everyone would want as an officer.
“There are so many theories about modern leadership in policing and I think Gerry was a renaissance man and he was years ahead of his time and then on top of that you have the bravery.”
The Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) will formally unveil a memorial to Supt Richardson later today at its headquarters in Pangbourne, Berkshire.
Current PSA President, Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths said: “Gerry’s death was a tragic and poignant moment in our Service’s history.
“He was shot at point blank range when attempting to apprehend an armed robber who was fleeing a jewellers in a busy street in Blackpool.
“The shock and impact of the murder was such that around 100,000 people lined the streets for Gerry’s funeral.
“It is fitting for our association to mark the anniversary of his death, but also to take the opportunity to formally recognise all those superintendents and chief superintendents who have given the ultimate sacrifice for public duty.”
Lancashire Police Federation chair Rachel Hanley said Gerry’s death is a ‘stark reminder’ of the dangers police officers face in the line of duty.
She said: “Thankfully it is rare that police officers make the ultimate sacrifice, sadly that is exactly what Supt Richardson did, that brave act of leadership cost him his life.
“Supt Richardson heard the raid emerging whilst in his office and went out to assist his colleagues, he was shot in the stomach twice at point blank range.
“His courage and sacrifice should never be forgotten, we will not forget that act of bravery, despite the passing of time.
“Policing is a dangerous profession, and our officers put their lives on the line every day, the murder of our colleague serves as a stark reminder of the dangers our officers face.”
Andrew Snowden, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire echoed the tributes about Supt Richardson.
He said: “The 50th anniversary of Supt Gerry Richardson’s death is an opportunity to reflect on his bravery and selflessness to run into danger when most of us would naturally run the other way.
“His actions on that day will never be forgotten and also serve as a reminder of the risks that officers continue to face in the line of duty.
“It is absolutely right that half a century on we remember the sacrifice Supt Richardson made and how he represents the very best of us as a police force, and as a county.”