Stories of bravery, dedication and innovation were celebrated yesterday (Monday 19th June) at a special awards ceremony at The Mansion House in Clifton, Bristol.
Police officers and staff from Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset were given accolades at the event, which was attended by Chief Constable Andy Marsh, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, the High Sheriff of Bristol Anthony Brown, and Angela Yeoman OBE.
Chief Constable’s Commendations are awarded for significant personal courage or initiative and / or commitment in the execution of duty far beyond what should normally be expected.
Chief Constable’s commendations for team commitment and utmost professionalism were awarded to: PC James Evans, PC Caroline Davey, DC David Ives, PC Sean Vine, Inspector Sarah Treweek, PC Daniel Wallwork, Anthony Unthank (now retired), Chief Inspector Paul Underhill, Inspector Clive Summerill, PCSO Brian Harris, PC Douglas Whapples, PC Michael Dyne, PC Jason Smith, PC Louise Newton, all from Avon and Somerset Constabulary; and PC Alan Kyne and Sergeant Scott Hill from Wiltshire Constabulary.
This team of officers and police staff were all involved in the initial stages of the investigation into the tragic tipper truck crash in Landsdown Lane in Bath in February 2015, which killed four people, including a four-year-old girl. The 32 tonne truck went out of control on a descent into Weston Village, and struck a number of vehicles and pedestrians, and only came to a stop when it toppled onto its side. In addition to the four people who were killed, a number of people were seriously injured.
The officers arriving at the scene were confronted with devastation and chaos. The incident happened as children were leaving school and the area was very busy; people were panicking and traumatised. The officers worked with professionalism and dedication, offering support and comfort to those involved, while ensuring a secure area was maintained and evidence preserved. They secured witnesses and provided welfare checks and ensured the deceased were treated with dignity and respect, staying with them for a long time until they were removed from the scene.
The area remained secure and the road closed for three days, with officers all working tirelessly to secure the area and maintain cordons. This greatly aided what would become a complex 22 month investigation, which led to the conviction of two men for four counts of gross negligence manslaughter in December 2016.
Chief Constable’s Commendations for hard work and dedication: PC Emma Coast and recently retired Inspector Paul Bunt, for their work in developing the pioneering Drug Education Programme, which is currently being piloted in Bristol. The scheme gives people caught with small amounts of any controlled drug for their own personal use, the option of attending an educational workshop instead of being arrested. It is designed to deal with low-level drug offences by engaging with users, reducing reoffending and keeping them out of the criminal justice system.
Their work in developing this programme has changed the relationship of the police with those in communities affected by drugs. It has received national attention and has placed the constabulary at the forefront of thinking around the policing of drug use, gaining the attention of the Home Office.
Crown Court Commendations are awarded by the Crown Court for significant personal courage, or significant commitment in the execution of duty, above and beyond what should normally be expected.
DC Scott Westbrook-Smith was commended by His Honour Judge Martin Picton for his diligence and hard work, which helped to bring to justice a man who kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in Weston-super-Mare, 33 years after the incident took place.
In July 1983, the victim was abducted near Marine Lake in WSM, dragged to a hut and seriously sexually assaulted. The case was unresolved at the time, but was reopened in 2015 by the Major Crime Review Team (MCRT). DC Westbrook-Smith and his team used forensic advancements to obtain a DNA profile of the offender from fibre tapings taken from the victim’s clothing at the time, which matched an entry on the National DNA Database.
In August 2016, a 60-year-old man from Birmingham was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court to nine years in prison, after admitting charges of kidnap, sexual assault and false imprisonment.
PC Gareth Pike was commended by His Honour Judge Lambert for showing commensurate skill and professionalism when confronted with a dangerous man armed with a knife, who he bravely disarmed.
In June 2016, taser trained PC Pike volunteered to attend an incident in Southmead where a man was reported to be threatening to kill his mother with a knife. When PC Pike arrived at the address, the man came out of the house and walked towards him, holding a large knife. Using his taser, PC Pike ended a potentially violent and life threatening incident with the minimum amount of force, and without anyone else being injured.
PC Philip Dalwood was commended by His Honour Judge Lambert for his conspicuous bravery and tenacious dedication in restraining a suspected drug dealer in south Bristol, despite being heavily outnumbered.
In October 2014, PC Dalwood was on patrol in Knowle West when he spotted a suspected drug dealer, in a group who were causing trouble and anti-social behaviour. Despite being solo crewed, PC Dalwood detained the man for a drugs search, who became violent, encouraging the other six to eight men in the group to attack and intimidate the officer. The situation escalated and the man who was being detained attempted to discard what was later found to be class A drugs. PC Dalwood held his ground until colleagues arrived to assist him.
At considerable risk to himself, PC Dalwood demonstrated tenacity and fortitude, ensuring a significant organised crime group was deprived of its assets, an individual member of the gang was taken off the streets and a large quantity of controlled drugs were removed form circulation.
Royal Humane Society Awards are awarded for acts of bravery while saving a human life, or in an attempt to do so.
In November 2015, PC Fiona Currey and PC Kate Hellenburgh, were called to the Rupert Street NCP in central Bristol, where an 18-year-old man was threatening to jump from the third floor. On arrival, they saw that the man was hanging off the wrong side of the railings, approximately 30-40 feet off the ground, highly agitated. With no thought for their own safety, PCs Currey and Hellenburgh leant over the wall and railing and grabbed the man’s arms, at which point he let go of the railings.
He was a large man and he was struggling, pushing against the wall with his legs, but the officers managed to keep hold of his arms, stopping him from falling. By doing this they risked losing their own balance and being pulled over the railings themselves. The officers managed to keep hold of the man’s arms until two other officers arrived five to ten minutes later, who helped to pull the man back over the railing to safety.
For their exceptional police work, putting the public first and successfully saving this man from very serious harm or death, they are awarded a Royal Humane Society Commendation.
In February 2016, PCSO Sarah Hewlett went to a report of a man sleeping rough in his vehicle in Keynsham, who was reported to be drunk and aggressive. He told PCSO Hewlett that he had split up with his partner and had been sleeping rough for a week. He also told her that he wanted to end his life. PCSO Hewlett was concerned about the man’s welfare and requested assistance from colleague PCSO Christopher Purvey.
A sequence of events then unfolded which led to the man pouring a can of petrol over his head and threatening to set himself on fire. Both PCSOs spent the next 20 minutes restraining the man and attempting to calm him down. He was very upset and aggressive and kept trying to grab a box of matches from the car. Everyone was covered in petrol and the situation was extremely volatile. The man was eventually arrested and detained under the Mental Health Act.
PCSOs Hewlett and Purvey acted with extreme bravery, putting their duty before their own safety and their instinctive actions and communication skills saved this man’s life. For their professionalism and skill, they are awarded the Royal Humane Society Commendation.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “As the Queen said recently in her birthday celebrations, it’s a sombre time for the country at the moment. But today is a chance to reflect on all the amazing and important work you do. I don’t get the chance often enough to say thank you, so it’s wonderful to have that opportunity today.
“In my view there are three things which make the world of policing go round: firstly, it’s knowing that this is one of the most important roles you will do in your lives, right at the heart of society; secondly, you have optimism and hope that the future can be better, and you help the people you deal with to feel this way too; and thirdly, you do your job with caring and compassion in your heart. Thank you for all that you do.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mounstevens said: “The Chief Constable has used words today like ‘jaw-dropping’ to describe what you do, and he is right. The work you do is so important. You get up in the morning, not knowing what you’re going to be faced with at work. I’m delighted to be here and so proud to share this special day with you, your friends and family.
“I, like most people here, watched the coverage of the Landsdown Lane incident in Bath with horror and sadness. I could turn the news off, but you couldn’t and what you saw that day will stay with you forever.
“You are indicative of and represent all that’s great about everyone who works for Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Well done.”
Posted on Tuesday 20th June 2017