North Yorkshire Police is inviting members of the public to vote for their local hero in its 2023 Annual Awards.
The joint ceremony held by North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service recognises outstanding work by officers, staff and volunteers of both organisations.
From bravery on the frontline to unsung heroes working behind the scenes to keep the people of North Yorkshire safe, the awards highlight the very best of our police and fire services.
The award ceremony will be held in November and will see awards presented in 27 categories across both organisations.
Voting for the Public Choice Award is now open, giving the opportunity for members of the public to decide who should win the coveted honour of being the people’s choice. The four finalists for each service have been selected from the 27 winners from both organisations.
Zoë Metcalfe, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Public Choice Awards remind us to recognise and highlight the extraordinary work that our brave Officers, Firefighters, volunteers and other Police and Fire staff provide to go above and beyond for our communities, helping people to be safe and feel safe wherever they are and whatever they are doing.
“One of the priorities within both my Police & Crime and Fire & Rescue plans is to enhance positive culture, openness, integrity and public trust in Police and Fire services, with a personal pledge to work tirelessly to restore and renew that trust if confidence has been shaken.
“These awards present the opportunity to reinforce confidence by showcasing some of the amazing work being done across York and North Yorkshire, and I want to personally say thank you to North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for continuing to work hard to protect us during challenging times.”
The winners of the Public Choice Award will be announced at the ceremony in November.
And the nominees are…
Acting Sergeant John Pepper – Richmond
John is an acting sergeant on our response team based in Richmond. He has won the overall award for leadership following multiple nominations from his team. It’s now over to you to decide if he should win the Public Choice Award for North Yorkshire Police.
John has consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and goes above and beyond to support his team, inspiring them and leading from the front, resulting in a happy, motivated and highly committed team.
In their nominations, his team have described him as: “An exceptional role model, his professional competence and leadership is something to admire and learn from.
Sergeant Pepper's breadth of policing knowledge and his ability not to flail under pressure is a testament to his character.
He is never too busy if you need to talk to him about something that is on your mind, his door is always open and he will always give his time without question, regardless of his own commitments and busy work schedule.
When members of the team have struggled with mental wellbeing, John’s care and compassion has helped them remain at work, knowing that they have his full support. This can only benefit the wider organisation and the communities in which we police.
John has this special friendly, genuine and sincere presence about him which uplifts everyone and sets the tone for the shift ahead.
He has always had a way that motivates the team and will always strive to go that little bit further to help and support you especially with professional development. His kind words of encouragement inspire you to achieve and fulfil your aspirations and will personally go out of his way to help you succeed.
He embodies North Yorkshire Police’s ethics and values in everything he does.
John relishes the challenge of his role in frontline policing and is motivated wholly by safeguarding victims and bringing offenders to justice.
Police Constable Savannah Knighton
Savannah has won our Police Officer of the Year award. Is she also the public’s choice? You decide…
Savannah (known as Sav) has been a police officer for four years and has served as a proactive officer on the force’s Operation Expedite team covering the large area of our County Command (Harrogate, Craven, Hambleton and Richmondshire) for the last two years. The Expedite team proactively tackle serious organised crime groups and work closely with key partners to safeguard vulnerable people.
Sav’s energy and motivation are infectious. She has been key in supporting new members of the team in their development and the subject of positive praise by line managers, heads of departments and peers.
Her performance is exceptional. Not only has she arrested numerous individuals linked to organised criminality, such as county lines drug dealing, but she has also supported the intelligence development linked to organised crime gangs. She has submitted 102 intelligence feeds in the first half of this year. The most of any officer serving in County Command.
Sav has taken ownership of some serious and complex investigations involving organised crime groups including investigations into a significant offender who was supplying class A drugs in Northallerton and an organised crime group based in West Yorkshire. She is also the investigating officer following a day of action that saw five warrants executed and the seizure of £153,000 in cash recovered from one address.
She has built good working relationships with some of the most vulnerable members of the community. She has managed a number of human trafficking investigations, worked on ‘threats to life’ investigations, and submitted numerous safeguarding referrals locally and nationally. She’s also worked with key partners such as social care, Harrogate’s homeless hostel and housing providers to support and safeguard those individuals.
She has recently been filmed by two television crews for the BBC and ITV regarding the fight against county lines in Harrogate. Her professionalism was the subject of exceptional feedback from both the press office and the TV reporters.
Sav is an exceptional role model and ambassador of the force.
Schools Liaison Team
Some of the team picture with Christina Gabbitas
Our Schools Liaison Team lead our proactive engagement with primary and secondary-level pupils to deliver effective early intervention and prevention content. They have won our annual award for Team of the year.
Read more to see if you think they should win the Public Choice Award for North Yorkshire Police.
Our School Liaison Officers (SLOs) complement a large network of partnership working and use their policing expertise, as well as trauma-informed practice, to assist in problem-solving approaches, helping complexly traumatised young people.
Working with partners, Changing Lives and NYRise, they have delivered sustained education and harm reduction to young people who have been drawn into substance use. The team, through the Emerging Drugs Trends Partnership, are a driver for information sharing and disruption of drug related concerns. The SLOs have also played a key role in the partnership’s creation of the Drink Drug Hub, a website offering advice, guidance and accurate information about alcohol and other drugs, for young people, parents/guardians and professionals alike.
The collaboration of the SLOs with author Christina Gabbitas, has embedded vital early years education about County Lines and associated risks, such as carrying knives. This was among a number of the team’s activities that were specifically highlighted for their innovation in the force’s 2022 HMICFRS Inspection.
The work of our School Liaison Officers (SLOs) has resulted in some tangible benefits for the young people that they work with.
Their offer of timely education and intervention, relating to knives and weapons, has delivered a reoffending rate as low as 8%.
Their work designing and implementing early intervention, and prevention for drugs possession for under 18s, in 2021 (Operation Choice), has reduced youth custody admissions for drugs possession by 45% and referrals to the Youth Offending Panel by 80%.
Crucial Crew, a massive organisational effort delivered with partners, this year benefited close to 10,000 Year 6 primary school children. It delivers personal and safety education messages and seeks to encourage model behaviour and good citizenship through active participation in a range of scenarios.
The SLOs through their hard work, integrity and unwavering commitment to each other and the youth population, continue to deliver an exemplary service, resulting in them completing just short of 6,000 engagement or educational sessions over the last three and a half years.
PCs Dave Burgess, Joanne Ollerenshaw and Sergeant Sam Walsh of Craven Response Team
Dave, Joanne and Sam who are part of our Craven area response team have won our Bravery Award. Are they also going to get your nomination for the Public Choice Award for North Yorkshire Police? You decide…
Bravery is a given in the work of police officers operating on the front line. They run towards danger to protect the public and keep them safe while others step aside. This team have won our bravery award for their actions in containing a disturbed member of the public safe and keeping the public safe.
In the early hours of 24 August 2022, Dave, Joanne and Sam were dispatched to a report of a male with a knife who was reportedly suffering a mental health episode.
On their arrival, they were confronted with an extremely violent and aggressive male who emerged from a basement window armed with a metal grate. The male was reportedly suffering from Acute Behavioural Disturbance.
The officers discharged two tasers on the male which had no effect. He continued with his onslaught of extreme violence towards the officers for a sustained period of time.
All three officers showed the utmost professionalism and bravery throughout what is one of the worst assaults on officers in recent years.
At times during the night, the officers did not know whether or not they would survive this vicious attack but, despite this, showed outstanding courage and resilience, keeping other members of the public including ambulance staff safe from harm.
Backup was eventually provided by West Yorkshire Police, and officers were able to restrain the male safely and get him the medical attention he desperately needed.
Speaking about his experience Dave said: “As police officers we just go from job to job and get on with it. It’s what we do. There are jobs like this that make you stop and think. This incident was very close to becoming one with a different outcome. I am truly thankful that all three of us are here to tell the tale.”
Dave, Joanne and Sam acted selflessly and heroically and are an absolute credit to North Yorkshire Police.
Thank you for your interest. Voting is now closed! The winners will be announced at our Annual Awards ceremony on 24 November 2023.