Police Officers and Staff in Plymouth Praised at Special Ceremony

News Desk
Authored by News Desk
Posted: Monday, November 20, 2023 - 20:15

Police officers, staff and volunteers who work across Plymouth were praised at a special ceremony last week.

The annual event showcases the fantastic hard work and dedication of those who serve the Plymouth policing area and is a chance to thank the teams who keep the public safe.    

The ceremony took place in the presence of VIP guests the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Mark Shayer, Lady Mayoress Samantha Shayer, the High Sheriff of Devon The Right Revd Nick McKinel and Major Barrie Dulson, as well as members of the public who were recognised for assisting police. Volunteers such as police cadets also went along.

Police Commander for Plymouth, Chief Superintendent Matt Longman, hosted the awards ceremony and other senior officers attended including Detective Superintendent Scott Bradley, Superintendent Phil Williams, as well as Chief Inspectors for Local Policing - Darren Roach and Tom Cunningham.   

Chief Supt Matt Longman said: “Every single day people in our organisation, whether paid or voluntary, do amazing work to respond to those who need us. Award ceremonies like this are so important to pause for a moment, reflect, and celebrate those who have gone the extra mile or faced that additional level of adversity. These are always days that leave me incredibly proud of our people and what they achieve.”


Dedication and Selflessness, Police Community Support Officer Kathryn Wilson

PCSO Katherine Wilson was off duty in Plymouth City Centre when she noticed a young female crying and saw the person had several facial injuries. She identified herself as a Police Community Support Officer and said she was there to help. The female disclosed to the officer she was in a violent and controlling relationship.

PCSO Wilson gave the victim advice and recorded all the offences disclosed to her, as well as making all relevant departments aware of the situation.

As a result of this a police investigation was launched, the offender was convicted of controlling and coercive behaviour and sentenced to two years imprisonment. The victim stated that if it wasn’t for the compassion and empathy shown by PCSO Wilson that day, she would still be in an extremely dangerous and violent relationship.

The values that PCSO Wilson displayed that day were of integrity and public service. Actions like these increase public trust and confidence in policing. We would like to take this opportunity to encourage any victims of domestic abuse to contact us.


Dedication and Professionalism: Lauren Woodcock, Laura Toms, Gemma Louise, Bryan Davis, Sarah Herbert & Phil Cornthwaite     

Staff at the Call Management and Communications Unit based in Plymouth were on duty on Christmas Eve 2022. The team were working on minimal staffing levels and control room demand was high. Despite this the team maintained an exceptional service.

During this shift a critical incident had been declared in South Devon. A large-scale disorder at a holiday park in Dawlish had been reported involving multiple weapons.

Lauren Woodcock was the Resource Incident Management Officer at the time and Sarah Herbert and Bryan Davis offered leadership throughout the incident. The wider team consisted of Laura Toms, Gemma Louise, Alan Livingstone and Phil Cornthwaite who all showed professionalism and dedication throughout by communicating and offering clear direction to safeguard the community.

The teamwork and dedication displayed ensured that arrests were made, and the scene was secured whilst offering reassurance to the public.


Empathy and Professionalism: Victoria Symons

In her role as Enhanced Crisis Communicator (ECC) Victoria Symons was tasked to contact a man in crisis who was standing high on the Tamar Bridge.

During the multi-agency response, the man refused all support from the emergency services. His complex mental health and distressed state made it difficult for officers to engage with him.

Through her resilience and persistence Victoria eventually contacted the man via his mobile phone. She used her communication skills and experience to build a rapport. She invested time with him and treated the man with compassion, respect, and dignity. Whilst under additional pressures Victoria remained calm and displayed professionalism to provide information to all involved.

As a result of her actions the man was willing to engage with the emergency services. He was safely returned to the ground, where he received mental health support.


Commitment and Professionalism: Detective Constable Samantha Smith, Detective Constable Luke Portch, Detective Sergeant Chris Kinski & Inspector Emma Brimicombe 

Op Fellowship was the investigation into a stranger rape in Plymouth city centre.

Under the leadership of Detective Sergeant Chris Kinski, Detective Constable Luke Portch and Detective Constable Sam Smith tenaciously drove the investigation. Starting with very limited information, the team identified immediate actions which resulted in the quick identification and arrest of the suspect. The team worked tirelessly, completing multiple interviews and additional evidence, before taking a compelling case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who authorised charges of kidnap and rape.

As the investigation progressed the victim was supported throughout by the Sexual Offences Liaison Officer, Inspector Emma Brimicombe, who completed the initial interview and supported the victim through the whole process. This led to the victim feeling supported and able to give evidence at trial.

The team were praised by the CPS for their work throughout the trial process, which led to the offender’s conviction and 18 year sentence.


Duties and Responsibilities: Detective Sergeant Rhian Jones and Police Constable Shelley Charlton 

In July 2022 the Op Legaility investigation team received a report of a stranger rape of a female who had significant injuries. The team consisting of Detective Sergeant Rhian Jones and PC Shelley Charlton, initiated fast-track actions around evidence gathering and victim support, leading to the identification and arrest of a serving Army Commando.

The suspect carried out a sustained violent attack and rape on the female leaving lifelong injuries. Over 100 hours of additional work went into actions such as CCTV and passive data alone leading to the charge and remand of the suspect.

At trial the suspect was found guilty of multiple offences including rape, actual bodily harm and strangulation. He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. The level of effort and care into this investigation lead to the victim asking if she could read her impact statement at sentencing without any special measures. 


Selflessness: Mr Bob Underwood 

Bob previously worked as a police officer in Plymouth for over 30 years and was the Chief Inspector for Greenbank. During this time, he became involved in Trevi, a charity whose work provides a safe and nurturing space for women in recovery from substance and alcohol abuse to heal, grow, thrive and have positive futures. 

Bob was one of the founding members of the national award-winning organisation who shared a vision with close friend Roma French and others to create a unique environment which supports women and their children who have experienced drug and alcohol issues.

Bob has continued to support the charity throughout his retirement, dedicating many hours as a volunteer to further the work of Trevi which has helped transform the lives of thousands of women and their children since 1993.

His kind and modest nature is appreciated and admired by all those that he has worked with and supported in Trevi over the years.


Dedication and Professionalism: Police Sergeant John Manners, Police Sergeant Andrew Millett,     Police Constable Chris Higham, Police Constable Richard Menheneott & Police Constable Stuart Tucker 

Operation Millspark was the response to a boating incident where two passengers with disabilities were missing after a pleasure boat capsized on Roadford Lake in June 2022.

The Force Support Group dive team responded to the incident and provided their specialist capabilities. The team worked directly with the Senior Investigating Officer & Forensic Co-ordinator to provide advice and updates on the search. They brought in a Remote Operated Vehicle which scanned the large lakebed. The location of the two missing people was promptly identified and sadly, the team recovered the two persons deceased, along with their wheelchairs, from the lakebed. The officers worked long shifts, were professional throughout and are an asset to the force. Their knowledge and experience were invaluable throughout the incident.


Commitment and Professionalism: Detective Sergeant Chris Kinski, Police Staff Investigator (PSI) Amy Cattell and Detective Constable Samantha Smith 

Operation Ferndoor was the investigation into child grooming and sexual offences reported by two sisters who were victims of their stepfather.  

Police Staff Investigator Amy Cattell was appointed as Officer In the Case. She was supported by DC Samantha Smith. Victim accounts led to the suspect’s arrest. Due to the diligent and tireless initial response and investigation, evidence was obtained for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) within the first 24 hours and the offender was charged and remanded.

Supported by Detective Sergeant Chris Kinski as Deputy Senior Investigating Officer, the team worked with the victims over many months to ensure that their welfare needs were prioritised.

PSI Cattell and DC Smith worked closely with the prosecuting lawyer to manage the challenging court process. The team remained resilient throughout and provided evidence ensuring that the offender pleaded guilty to several offences including rape and grooming. He was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment.


Commitment and Dedication: Police Community Support Officer Elaine Wilson  

Due to PCSO Wilson’s excellent links with her community, she received information that a child within her policing area had been missing from school for over two years. The child had also not been seen by a GP or any form of health worker within that time and PCSO Wilson was instrumental in ensuring that the necessary checks were initiated to ensure the safety of the child. The child’s current home address and whereabouts was also unknown. After lots of research and checks with partner agencies, a property was given as the possible address.

Response officers made enquiries at the address and discovered the child who was in a very poor state of physical health due to neglect. The property was also extremely dirty and housed numerous animals who required veterinary treatment and were seized due to the poor living conditions.

The child was safeguarded and received the necessary support; this case may have had a more sinister outcome if not dealt with. PCSO Wilson’s actions initiated the enquiries leading up to the child being found and this was due to her having such a good knowledge and links within the community. 


Bravery and Selflessness: Mr Chris Kirk 

Whilst driving across Marsh Mills flyover in Plymouth, Mr Kirk noticed a female in distress. Without hesitation he risked his own safety to cross a busy road to save her life. He remained with the female for a significant time, all the while engaging, reasoning, and giving her his full attention.

His delivery and engagement were outstanding throughout this incident. Mr Kirk successfully encouraged the female to return to the safe side of the bridge after an hour of negotiating and reasoning. Mr Kirk acted selflessly to protect another who desperately needed support in a time of crisis.


Professionalism and Commitment: Detective Constable Luke Portch 

During an exceptionally busy period on Operation Gemstone, DC Portch has managed multiple competing demands to provide the best service possible to victims of rape and serious sexual offences.

DC Portch’s commitment and dedication is exceptional. He provides support to his colleagues, both in crime and wider teams. His knowledge of digital investigation has seen him take on additional responsibilities to develop an innovative online operation to tackle drug supply in the city and he took a proactive and informed approach to the implementation of a new IT system.

DC Portch’s patience and tenacity has also led to the charge and remand of several high-risk suspects in stranger rape investigations. He has been the Officer In the Case for several of the highest profile investigations in Plymouth and has worked tirelessly to respond to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) requests, undertaken safeguarding activity and developed evidential packages which have resulted in significant sentences being handed down at crown court.


Resilience and Determination: Police Constable Taff Sanger 

PC Taff Sanger was deployed to a report of a member of public suffering from a mental health crisis. The man had been out in his vehicle and gave no indication of where he was. PC Sanger conducted area searches throughout Plymouth before attending Devil’s Point where he located the man’s vehicle, but the man was not present.

During the search an Enhanced Crisis Communicator (ECC) engaged with the man via telephone. The ECC established that he was outside due to the sound of heavy rain and fierce winds.

Once PC Sanger located the man, he ran off towards the cliff edge. The officers stopped him close to the cliff edge and PC Sanger held on to the man until further officers arrived who were able to safely remove him from the cliff edge.

PC Sanger showed resilience and determination in difficult circumstances whilst protecting and saving the life of another.


Commitment and Professionalism: Detective Sergeant Sarah Ronayne, Detective Constable Edward Carr & Police Constable Shelley Charlton 

Operation Lispound was a rape and serious sexual offence investigation where a vulnerable 15-year-old female was held against her will by the suspect in his home. He plied her with drugs, sexually abused and raped her prior to her escape.

Detective Sergeant Ronayne was appointed as the Detective Senior Investigating Officer. She worked closely with colleagues making key decisions and giving policy oversight.

DC Carr was allocated as the Officer In the Case (OIC) and worked tirelessly to generate key evidence, requiring regular liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). He detailed a compelling prosecution case and supported the lawyer throughout the trial.

PC Charlton was appointed as Sexual Offences Liaison Officer (SOLO) to the victim. The victim had complex needs and was extremely vulnerable. PC Charlton worked closely with the victim to gather her evidence, which ultimately secured the conviction at trial of a 15-year sentence.

The team worked collectively to support the city’s most vulnerable people, building public trust and confidence.


Leadership and Professionalism: Detective Sergeant Joe Mercer 

Operation Hologram was the investigation into a murder linked to rival motorcycle groups. Detective Sergeant Mercer was the Deputy Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) in the case and played a pivotal role in gathering large amounts of evidence to support the prosecution case.

DS Mercer demonstrated great attention to detail and determination throughout this comprehensive investigation and he managed the team through the complexities and challenges of the case.

The advocate in the case commended the dedication demonstrated by the investigation team and the work undertaken to ensure that all three defendants in the case were held accountable for their part in the murder.

Following the trial, the Judge commended the visual presentation of the evidence as the most impressive he had seen. All three defendants were convicted and sentenced to periods of imprisonment, which is directly attributable to the hard work of DS Mercer and the team.

Pic shows left to right: High Sheriff of Devon, The Right Revd Nick McKinnel, call handlers Lauren Woodcock, Laura Toms and Phil Cornthwaite with Chief Supt Matt Longman, Lord & Lady Mayoress Mark and Samantha Shayer