Merseyside police officers, staff, volunteers, and community partners were celebrated at this year’s force Community First Awards held last night, Wednesday 16 November 2022.
Now in their fifth year, the Community First Awards recognise the dedication, bravery and professionalism shown by people across the force, and from partner organisations, to support our communities, preventing crime, protecting people, and pursuing offenders.
This year more than 150 entries were received from Merseyside Police colleagues who nominated officers and staff for their outstanding work, as well as those who carry out invaluable duties alongside the force, to help the community.
A judging panel had the difficult task of shortlisting submissions, selecting three finalists for each of the 13 categories, with Chief Constable Serena Kennedy and Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell also choosing a worthy winner of their personal choice awards.
Among the winners on the night were:
• Bravery award: Constables Alex Crawford and Graeme Hurd (pictured above). The two officers responded after a concerned taxi driver reported a woman standing on the wrong side of the railings, next to Liverpool Ferry terminal, attempting to take her own life. While the constables were en route the woman jumped into the River Mersey, where the tide was high and the strong current was pulling her out to sea. Alex quickly removed his body armour and equipment, and risking his own safety, jumped into the water to reach the woman, while Graeme communicated the urgency of the situation through his radio, requesting the Coastguard and ambulance services to respond quickly. In the water, Alex was struggling to lift the woman out, but Graeme was able to pull them both to safety and immediately administer first aid. Thanks to the officers’ bravery, the woman’s life was saved that night and she was offered the help and support she needed.
• Police Officer of the Year Award: Superintendent Diane Pownall (pictured above). Throughout Diane Pownall’s 29 years’ service in Merseyside Police, she has shown a real commitment and passion for policing and currently serves as the senior officer in charge of policing in Liverpool. Through her dedicated work she ensures the force understands our use of stop and search powers and the impact they have on criminality and our communities. As Liverpool Superintendent, Diane has faced a great many challenges over the last 12 months such as the bombing at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the tragic murder of Ava White. Diane shows compassion, resilience and proactivity, and constantly thinks of the needs of the community, she truly embodies the force’s Community First values.
• Tackling Organised Crime award: In the past 12 months, the Project Medusa team has worked to tackle the exploitation of children and vulnerable people. The team has employed a range of methods from enforcement to safeguarding, to effectively disrupt and bring down those responsible for County Lines and protect vulnerable people. Through their relentless work, the team target and remove middle management controllers of County Lines, leaving street dealers with no upstream supply. This tactic has led to several modern slavery prosecutions against those who are exploiting children and vulnerable adults. The main goal of their work is to protect and prevent further harm in the community, and they have closed more than 300 County Lines in the last twelve months with offenders receiving more than 400 years collective imprisonment. The team heading Project Medusa are recognised as being a formidable frontline force.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “The Community First Awards were a fantastic evening. Hearing about the incredible bravery, dedication and selflessness of Merseyside Police officers, staff and volunteers and their outstanding work with partners to prevent and fight crime and support victims makes me incredibly proud. It’s so important we shine a light on the great work that is going on across Merseyside.
“I was also particularly pleased to present Jo Matthews with my award this year. She makes a huge contribution in the work to build stronger, safer communities in Liverpool and she is a very worthy winner.”
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said, “These awards are a celebration of the hard work, professionalism, and dedication that our officers, staff, volunteers and partners display day in, day out, to protect victims, prevent crime and serve the public. It is so important that these achievements are recognised and celebrated because policing and the work carried out to support our communities across Merseyside is by no means an easy job.
“The judges had a really difficult task choosing the winners, as everyone nominated was a worthy winner for their outstanding work and commitment, and for the difference they have made to keep people across Merseyside safe. I would like to congratulate and thank all the winners and nominees who go above and beyond every day to put our communities first.
“I am always incredibly proud to be Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and I know just how hard our officers, staff, volunteers, and partners’ work. The awards are an opportunity to celebrate just some of the examples of outstanding work that they delivery every single day, for me, having the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and say thank you is really humbling. I am grateful for everything they do, and I hope this years’ winners and nominees are proud of themselves and their work.”
Main image: Tackling Organised Crime Award – Project Medusa. Detective Inspector Gary Stratton said:
“To be recognised for our work is absolutely fantastic, it’s so great to win the award and we are really pleased to have been nominated by the people we work with. It’s given us a real sense of pride.“