Awards ceremonies

1 Jul

I felt that I wanted to tell people about something I get to do through my role on Sussex Police Authority that many of you would want to do given the chance. I get to give out awards to officers and staff for outstanding actions or projects they have done. Saying that it is an honour and a privilige sounds trite but it genuinely is. Having said that, I always find it one of the most difficult jobs I do. First of all, standing up in front of rows of amazing, clever and selfless people, their proud families and friends feels ridiculous. Who am I? The only way I can get through it without feeling like I am not good enough is to remember that the whole point of independent members of the authority is to represent the ordinary person, the mother, the neighbour, the daughter in law who is grateful for the work of public servants. So it seems right to share some of that publicly and let you know what some of the certificates I have given out have been for.

First I will tell you about the worst awards ceremony where I basically broke down and just cried, I nearly threw up in front of all the people there. I gave two teams certificates for their actions in bringing to account the following:

1. A mother who had used hot knives to punish her primary school aged daughter, as well as punished her with shoes, leaving perfect imprints of them on her little body. The officers had to interview this little girl as she told them about her punishments in a completely matter of fact way. “Well I was naughty…”

2. A man who had kept his partner imprisoned whilst he tortured her, slicing her palms and the soles of her feet amongst other injuries.

That was the worst awards ceremony, I wanted to cover my ears and run to the toilet to throw up in private. The officers I gave certificates to were so kind and told me “Its alright” and kept me going,. All I had to do was listen to what happened. Not witness it.

Many times awards are given to staff who make sure equipment, people, evidence are where they are supposed to be. These are ‘back office functions’ which are denigrated in the press and I am so depressed that their work is seen as a waste of money by many in positions of power and influence. Most notably I gave the team that got Sussex Police to Croyden during the riots, sorting out cover for Sussex and negotiating all the issues that occur with that kind of deployment. Remembering, the email from a woman in Croyden received just after the riots saying how her children were terrified and inconsolable until they saw the police van with ‘Brighton and Hove’ roll up outside and felt safe.

The officer who physically climbed over a motorway barrier and hung on to someone who wanted to jump until futher help arrived. The grim determination of that action and the physical feat is far more impressive than any Olympian for me.

The Sussex Lowland Search and Rescue Volunteers who give up their time for free to help locate vulnerable people.

The officers who saved someone from hanging themselves off the railings at Brighton beach, the many who have plucked people out of the sea at risk of their own lives.

I have missed hundreds here but I hope you feel like I have done something to highlight the bravery, skill and humanity that I have seen and praised on your behalf.

I am not saying Sussex Police is perfect, and that they couldn’t at times improve…but it seems unfair to see the ‘transformation’ and the performance targets without a bit of this stuff in there too.

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2 Responses to “Awards ceremonies”

  1. Scrapper Duncan July 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Inspiring stuff! Too often we forget that police officers are frequently motivated by a desire to help.

  2. Godfrey Daniel July 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Brilliant and moving!

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