The annual Merseyside Police ‘Community First Awards’ took place last night (Tuesday, 8 October), recognising police officers and staff for their dedication, bravery and professionalism.
The ceremony, which is now in its third year, saw members of the force celebrated for a range of achievements from investigation work, launching innovative new operations and safeguarding vulnerable people.
Partner agency professionals, volunteers and community leaders were also recognised for their invaluable work alongside the police and their commitment to the communities of Merseyside.
Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Andy Cooke QPM, was joined in presenting the awards to the winners by representatives of the 12 companies or organisations whose sponsorship of the awards night had made the event possible.
The event was held at the Hilton Hotel Liverpool, where guests received a warm welcome from schoolchildren from the force’s Mini Police initiative. A young musician provided the evening with sterling entertainment and a raffle took place to raise money for The Merseyside Police and High Sheriffs Charitable Fund and the Stand Tall foundation.
Speaking after the awards, Chief Constable Cooke said: “Year upon year I continue to be left astounded by the achievements of officers and staff that we hear about at the Community First Awards, and I would like to congratulate, and thank, all the winners and nominees for their exceptional work.
“I am incredibly proud to be the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, a force that truly puts our communities at the heart of everything we do, and I know that every single day our officers and staff continue to go the extra mile to keep those communities safe.
“Policing is by no means an easy job yet the passion and commitment of those who choose this career is second to none. Last night we saw just a handful of examples of the incredible work that goes on every single day across Merseyside and it is so important that these achievements are recognised and celebrated.
“This awards night would not have been possible without the generosity of all our sponsors and the local companies and organisations who kindly donated an award or raffle prize. In particular I would like to take this opportunity to give my special thanks to Morgan Sindall who are our headline sponsor for this evening but with great thanks also to: Softcat, Everton FC, Motorola Solutions, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Wilmott Dixon Construction, Liverpool FC, Reed Talent Solutions, BT, Liverpool John Moore’s University, Police Mutual and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
“All the proceeds from the evening will be going to the Merseyside Police and High Sheriffs Charitable Fund which helps groups run crime prevention and educational and training schemes in our most deprived areas, and the Stand Tall Foundation, which is administered by Charities Trust to help us raise the funds needed to look after the brave police horses in our Mounted Section.
“Finally, I would again like to wholeheartedly thank and congratulate the winners and nominees. I am incredibly proud to work with such inspirational individuals and I am extremely pleased that last night their achievements were recognised as deserved.”
Amongst the winners were four officers that launched Operation Lamprey, to tackle the exploitation of vulnerable residents in Bootle by drugs gangs and Megan Buckland, who took on the role of the forces first ever Digital PCSO after just 12 months with Merseyside Police.
Other winners included Police officer of the Year, Constable Chris Eastwood, who carried out 175 stop searches, arrested 52 people and contributed to more than 21 positive crime outcomes last year alone.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "Merseyside Police’s annual Community First Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the dedication, commitment and bravery of those who work around the clock, often in extraordinary circumstances, to keep our communities safe.
"It was a humbling and inspirational evening. We heard a few of the very many remarkable stories that take place, every day, of officers acting with great skill, compassion and courage to help others.
“I warmly congratulate all of this year’s winners and nominees and thank them for everything they have done to serve the people of Merseyside. Their work makes me very proud to be Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and last night was a small way of demonstrating our appreciation for everything they do."
The PCC's award
Carol McGrath is the PCC's Community First Award nomination for her 48 years dedication and commitment to all at Merseyside Police.
Carol started with Liverpool and Bootle Police as a policewoman in 1968. She was one of the first policewomen to work nights and paved the way for many other women when she was posed to St Anne Street as the first woman CID Aide in 1973.
Carol left the role in 19788 to have the first of her two children, returning between maternity leave, to work as a typist in the secretariat to Chief Constable Ken Oxford. Following this, she assisted CID at Cheapside by typing murder files, before moving onto complaints and discipline.
Despite working full time and looking after two young children, Carol took it upon herself to study psychology, clinical Hypnotherapy and Counselling. After gaining qualifications, Carol became a Welfare Officer at the Occupational Health Unit, where she found herself dealing with complex cases and traumatised staff. As the first Trauma Risk Incident Management (TRiM) Coordinator, Carol facilitated TRiM training, arranging assessments for staff who had attended serious incidents, and she is recognised by many of her colleagues for her compassionate and caring nature.
Carol was often asked for by name, continuing to support colleagues long after their treatment has ended. The PCC is delighted to honour Carol's hard and selfless work. She will be sorely missed following her recent retirement.
Image: Jane Kennedy with the Chief Constable and award winner Carol McGrath