City falls silent ten years after PC killing
On November 18 2005, Pc Sharon Beshenivsky put on her police uniform and went to work.
She could not have known that it would be for the last time.
Because at 3.25pm, along with her colleague Pc Teresa Milburn, Pc Beshenivsky responded to a call to a travel agents in Morley Street, Bradford, where an armed robbery was taking place.
She was shot dead on the street outside.
Yesterday, exactly 10 years after that call was made, her family, PC Milburn, fellow police officers and civic leaders fell silent at the memorial to the mother-of-five in Bradford’s Norfolk Gardens.
A short but solemn service marked the anniversary of the murder that shocked the city, and indeed the nation, before a minute’s silence at 3.25pm.
Bradford District Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin said the service for family, friends, colleagues and community members from across the city was an opportunity to “collectively come together” to remember Pc Beshenivsky.
He said: “Our thoughts are still with Paul and his family as we recall that fateful day 10 years ago when Sharon was killed in the line of duty.
“We come together as friends within the police family to reflect and support as we ensure that Sharon will not be forgotten.”
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Coun Joanne Dodds, laid flowers at the memorial.
She said: “The selflessness and dedication to duty that Sharon showed that day, is mirrored by officers and police community support officers in the way they safeguard the public and uphold the rule of law every day.
“Sharon made the ultimate sacrifice and gave her life protecting us and ensuring we could continue to enjoy the liberty, freedom and way of life we all value so dearly.
“The people of the Bradford district keenly appreciate and respect our serving police officers and the risks they face daily in carrying out their duties.”
Pc Beshenivsky was a 38-year-old probationary police officer on the day of the robbery – her daughter’s fourth birthday. After her shift, she would have attended her party with husband Paul, her two other children, and two stepchildren.
But the alarm that was raised at the Universal Express travel agency was not routine as Pc Beshenivsky and Pc Milburn believed.
Three men had enquired about buying tickets before producing weapons and jumping the counter.When they arrived at the scene, Pc Beshenivsky was fatally shot, while Pc Milburn was seriously wounded.Pc Beshenivsky, who had been a community officer for two years, had only joined Bradford Police as a trainee in the February of that year.
Colin Cramphorn, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police at the time, described her as an “enthusiastic, mature and very positive colleague”.
Since her death, five men have been convicted in relation to the robbery and murder.
Mustaf Jama was jailed for 35 years in 2007, a bid to appeal his sentence later failed; Yusuf Jama and Muzzaker Shah were also jailed for 35 years for murder, robbery and firearms offences. Muzzaker Shah was also jailed for 35 years, for manslaughter. Lookout Faisal Razzaq was jailed for 11 years, and Raza Ul-Haq Aslam was jailed for eight years.
Widow’s call for officers to be armed
PC Sharon Beshenivsky was the first female officer in 20 years to be shot dead by a criminal in England and Wales.
But sadly, not the last. Since her death, two other female officers have died. Police constables Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were shot and killed in Manchester in 2012.
Following their deaths, Pc Beshenivsky’s widower, Paul, called for the police to be routinely armed. In an interview at the time, he said: “You wouldn’t think it’d happen again, but it has. I think policing, as regarding going to scenes of crimes, should be monitored better, and I think police, in honesty, should be armed, walking into situations that they’re not totally aware of.”
Pc Beshenivsky’s funeral at Bradford Cathedral in 2006 attracted thousands of mourners and more than 400 police officers.