Heroic work of the police and public recognised

The Argus: Heroic work of the police and public recognised Heroic work of the police and public recognised

Savage cuts and costly operations have seen Sussex Police endure a difficult year. The headlines are rarely positive and a report in March declared morale at an “all time low”. But behind the budgets, Westminster targets and endless paperwork, is a group of hardworking officers quietly going about their duty. Their latest awards ceremony was held this week to celebrate the unsung heroes of the force. BEN JAMES reports.

Matt Savill was on his way to a burglary when he spotted a suicidal man peering over a cliff.

Without a thought for his own safety, he leapt from his patrol car, sprinted across an open field and rugby tackled the man to the floor.

The man was taken from the Ovingdean cliff top to hospital – his life had been saved.

Mr Savill was only on his second day with the Neighbourhood Response Team.

Along with 19 others he was recognised for his bravery and service at the twice-annual Brighton and Hove Divisional Awards Ceremony.

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, commander for Brighton and Hove, led the event.

He said: “The compassion, dedication and ongoing commitment of our teams to deliver excellent public service in the city is admirable.

“This year all of our teams have been tested as we have been called on to support a number of force-wide operations.

“Our officers and staff have not only risen to that challenge, they have gone further – continuing to innovate and finding new ways of working to benefit the wider community.”

Picking up the Divisional Commendation at the awards, which was held the County Cricket Ground in Hove, was Police Constable Raffaele Cioffi.

While off duty, the officer spotted a motorist driving erratically.

The raging man then jumped from the car and chased after a woman threatening to stab her.

Significant threat

Despite having no radio or protective equipment, Police Constable Cioffi put himself between the two and helped calm the situation.

The man, it turned out, was wanted by police and considered a significant threat.

Speaking after the ceremony, he said: “It’s nice to get recognition for our work because often things like this go unnoticed.

“I do appreciate it and it’s nice for my friends and family to come along and share it with me.”

Also picking up an award was Detective Constable Ed Downes.

He was called to investigate a violent robbery in Upper Hollingdean Road in which the victim was kicked, threatened with a firearm and beaten.

The officer was at the scene looking for potential forensic evidence when he spotted two men who matched the description of the suspects.

He followed them and called for backup on his radio when one of them bolted.

With no thought for his own safety he took them down and restrained them until they could be arrested.

In interview he grilled the pair and even managed to identify another suspect who supplied them with a gun.

Paying tribute to his officer, Mr Kemp, said: “As a result of his hard work and tenacity two men were charged with robbery and firearms offences and even though the main offender was a juvenile both suspects were remanded in court.”

But it wasn’t only serving officers who were recognised at the event.

A number of members of the public were given awards for their bravery and courage.

Security officer Tony Winfield was at work at The Hilton Metropole in October when he received a visit from police.

They told him a man wanted for recall to prison was thought to be in the area and handed him a photograph.

He said: “I spotted him in the breakfast room. It was quite shocking really because I’d been looking at the photo for the last 25 minutes.

“We sort of had a look at each other to say ‘I know you, you know me’.

“I followed him on CCTV and alerted the police but unfortunately we lost him. That was annoying.”

But just 25 minutes later, Mr Winfield spotted him again, this time in the hotel’s bar.

He said: “The whole thing was very cat and mouse. As I walked away I doubled back on myself and tried to observe him from a distance but he finished his drink and was off.

“He went into The Grand hotel. I called the police and they made the arrest. The man, along with his associate, was found with around £10,000 of drugs and £1,100 cash.

After picking up the award for public service, he said: “I loved it, absolutely loved it. In this business those are the jobs you want to be involved in.

“I’ve been in security for 22 years. It was a good day and a good result.”

Collecting the public Personal Responsibility Award was youngster Matthew Bishop.

Despite being just 14-years-old, his actions in summer helped reunite a lost child with his worried family.

Lost child

The teenager was walking through Saltdean when he spotted a four-year-old wandering around the middle of a busy road.

He calmly took the lad to one side and sat him down under a tree to shelter him from the powerful sun.

He called police and reassured the lost child until they arrived.

Chief Superintendent Kemp said: “As well as keeping the young person safe, Matthew’s actions meant the child was calm when officers arrived. It is actions like this which help officers and staff greatly.”

Among the others recognised was Police Constable Darren Balkham for his role as the Brighton and Hove Albion liaison officer.

Paying tribute, Mr Kemp said praise had poured in from forces and clubs around the country, adding “rarely has one officer had such a positive impact”.

Andrea Wood was handed the Excellence in Partnership award for her work in planning high profile Albion matches while Sergeant Jonny Hartley was given the award for Outstanding Leadership for his work in handling a chemical leak at the Cardinal Newman School.

Elsewhere The Personal Responsibility Award went to admin staff Sam Dewar and Katie Davies, Outstanding Investigator to Detective Constable Gemma Holley, Detective Constable Dawn Robertson and Detective Constable Rowan Carter and Outstanding Volunteer to Special Constable Alan Rankin-Thorn and Special Constable Gary Foster.

A special Excellence in Partnership Award was also handed to Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, Police Sergeant Richards Siggs, Simon Hughes from Brighton Housing Trust and Sarah Mitchell from the Rough Sleepers Street Services and Relocation Team.

Their pop up hub which provides medical, mental health, addiction and housing support for the rough sleepers in the city was singled out for special praise.

Brighton and Hove Mayor councillor Denise Cobb handed out the awards along with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

The commissioner said: “Once again I am delighted to attend the awards ceremony and see the work of officers and staff, who go above and beyond their normal call of duty, being recognised. I commend all these dedicated individuals for their actions and they thoroughly deserve the accolades they have received for helping keep Sussex safe.”

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