Going above and beyond call of duty
Brave, heroic, dedicated. These are just some of the words which could be used to describe those recognised at the 2017 Calderdale Police Awards.
Held on Wednesday evening at The Shay Stadium, the event saw police officers, police staff and members of the public praised for their efforts in helping to put criminals behind bars and save lives.
Those in attendance included Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire; Halifax MP Holly Lynch; the Mayor of Calderdale Coun Ferman Ali and his wife Shaheen; as well as Chief Constable Dee Collins.
PCs Paul Walker and James Gibbs were recognised alongside Special Constable Daniel Jones for their “prompt and brave” actions in February this year.
The trio pursued and arrested a man who unleashed a shooting spree in the Thrum Hall area of Halifax with a realistic-looking BB handgun, leaving four people needing hospital treatment for head wounds.
The perpetrator was handed a six-year jail sentence last month.
PC Walker said: “When we saw him, the adrenaline just kicks in - you want to detain him for the safety of the public.
“That’s what we are there to do.”
The incident proved to be a baptism of fire for SC Jones as it was his first day in the role.
The evening also shone a spotlight on the meticulous work of a team which eventually led to the prosecution of two men who had systematically abused boys and girls in Halifax and Surrey in the 2000s.
The team’s work involved the painstaking piecing together of a bag of shredded paper to discover 300 images of abuse of children, leading to the identification of victims and evidence of the men’s guilt.
The pair were sentenced to more than 14 years in jail in May this year.
Elsewhere on the night, PCSOs Gordon Thorpe and Carole Foulkes were commended for their life-saving actions when 69-year-old Rodney Hodgson collapsed in Halifax town centre in March.
Mr Hodgson, from Luddenden Foot, was unconscious, not breathing and totally unresponsive. While PCSO Foulkes reported the incident to the control room, managed onlookers and checked for a pulse and breathing, PCSO Thorpe delivered CPR for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived.
Mr Hodgson is now on the road to recovery, but was unable to attend the awards.
Speaking on his behalf, his wife Brenda, 71, said: “What they did was amazing. He would not be here if not for their quick action.”
PCSO Thorpe said it was a team effort, adding: “I’m really pleased to be here. It’s nice to be recognised, but it’s nice to know he is still alive.
“It’s nice feeling, knowing you have made a difference.”
Protecting the most vulnerable people in society is a key part of the job - and that’s particularly true in the search for missing people.
PS Emma Dillon, PS Osman Dillon and PS Brandon Greenwood were singled out for their work in locating a 74-year-old man with dementia who had gone missing from his Rastrick home last March. They were praised for their “determined team effort and leadership qualities in assisting a vulnerable missing person, whose life may otherwise have been in danger”.
Knowing there was no time to wait for the mountain rescue team to arrive, PS Osman Dillon had to physically carry the man, who was suffering hyperthermia and been laid face down in mud after a fall, to the nearest road.
Just a couple of weeks before, PS Dillon had done the same when a 28-year-old man, who uses a walking stick, fell near Ogden Water Country Park and was unable to walk.
After he was eventually found, PS Dillon carried the man on his back for some time before the mountain rescue team was able to take over.
He was recognised alongside PS Emma Dillon, PC Stuart Phillimore, PC Paul Kitchen, PC Philip Barnett, NPAS Pilot Captain Geoff Saunders, NPAS PC Mick Sherwin and PC James Hemmingway for an “outstanding team effort” to rescue the injured walker.
Meanwhile drugs officer PC Mark Butterfield was singled out for his “dedication and determination in tackling organised drug criminality across Calderdale”.
His achievements in the past year include seizing a staggering £1.3m worth of drugs and £400,000 worth of equipment.
A great deal of the equipment is donated to local schools and allotments.
PC Butterfield said: “I do get a bit of a buzz when you have given something away and it is used properly.”
Meanwhile, PC Suzanne Forrest and PC Joanne Hamilton-Wilson were recognised for “bravery beyond the normal call of duty” when they restrained a severely injured, violent man in October last year.
Other awards were given to those who had played a vital role in arresting travelling criminals, recovering high-value stolen property and bringing an organised crime group which had been targeting vulnerable victims at cash points. to justice. The force’s work in tackling domestic abuse was also praised, along with efforts to bring to justice two prolific offenders who had disrupted the town centre for some time.
A special, and surprise, award was presented to Inspector David Whitehouse, who will retire in August after more than 30 years of service to the police force.
Calderdale District Commander, Chief Superintendent Dickie Whitehead, said: “The fantastic examples of policing show the best in investigation, neighbourhood policing, volunteering and partnership working which together highlight the exceptional commitment and dedication of our dstrict team to protect the vulnerable and bring offenders to justice, making the district a safer place to live, work and bring up families.”
It was also a night of celebration and recognition for members of the public, whose selfless actions have helped to make Calderdale a safer place.
One of those people was 23-year-old Thomas Harnett, from Greetland.
He was praised after he prevented the significant loss of a number of high-value items from Harveys of Halifax department store.
The case dates back to October last year.
Mr Harnett had been on a night out in the town centre when he saw a man smashing the windows of the store and steal expensive items from inside.
The have-a-go hero chased and tackled the offender and, while ringing police, attempted to detain the man.
Although the man escaped, Mr Harnett recovered the stolen products and blood left at the scene later revealed the suspect was a serving prisoner at the time of identification.
Another individual recognised was Gary Allchin, a member of security staff at Calderdale Royal Hospital.
He was praised for his “outstanding support” and compassion towards others after a man died when scaffolding collapsed at the hospital last January. Mr Allchin helped the man’s young colleagues, took them to a place of safety and acted as a point of contact for officers on the scene.
Speaking to the Halifax Courier, Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: “It’s very important that we do celebrate and recognise the work that police, our partners and in fact the public do together, because we’ve seen some terrible events elsewhere in Manchester and London and there’s no doubt that the public really appreciate the work that our police and emergency services do.
“All the work we have been hearing about is set against that backdrop of cuts to policing and it’s my job to set the budget and help provide the resources, so I’ll be doing whatever I can in terms of lobbying government to make sure policing gets the funding it deserves.”
Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who comes from a policing family, has championed the “Protect the protectors” campaign.
It calls for harsher sentences for those who assault police officers and emergency service workers.
She said her own experience of seeing what police officers go through and hearing stories at the awards was a motivation for her “to go back to Westminster to make sure they have got all the protection they need, that we’ve got the numbers of police we need to be safe and that they’re safe”.