North Yorkshire Police officers win awards for operation to combat horror of knife crime

From left to right: North Yorkshire Police award winners Sgt Neil Northend, PC Andy Collinson, PCSO Justin Piercy and Supt Allan Harder.
From left to right: North Yorkshire Police award winners Sgt Neil Northend, PC Andy Collinson, PCSO Justin Piercy and Supt Allan Harder.

Three North Yorkshire Police officers have been recognised at a national awards ceremony for their work in diverting young peple away from the horrors of knife crime.

Supt Allan Harder, Sgt Neil Northend and PC Andrew Collinson received the accolade for Outstanding Contribution to Child Centred Policing for Operation Divan - an early intervention programme to divert young people away from carrying knives and weapons - at the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Local Policing Awards.

And Police Community Support Officer Justin Piercy was named PCSO of the Year for establishing We Care, a scheme designed to support and protect some of the most vulnerable in our local communities.

The awards, which took place on Tuesday at the Local Policing Conference in Leicestershire, recognise the innovative work undertaken nationally over the past 12 months, by police, partners and third sector agencies with the aim of making our communities safer.

Speaking about the operation’s objective, Supt Harder, North Yorkshire Police lead for safeguarding, said: “Our Operation Divan work is about keeping young people informed and safe and not criminalising them unnecessarily.

“Through our work and by working closely with partner agencies, we can identify those young people who are at risk of committing knife related offences.

“By early engagement and interventions with those young people on a one-to-one basis, we work to divert them away from the risk of knives, which will then make that young person safer, improve their future opportunities, and ultimately keep our communities safer.”

The PCSO of the Year award was given to Police Community Support Officer Justin Piercy, in recognition of his work to establish a scheme to support and safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Through his work with York People First, a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities or difficulties, Justin learned of the daily challenges which face someone who may have a learning difficulty.

He heard first hand experiences from people who had been targeted with abuse or exploited by criminals, because of their disability.

Working closely with the group, Justin designed and implemented the We Care scheme within North Yorkshire Police, with the aim of supporting the more vulnerable to feel safer to go out into their local communities and live their lives.

He said: “This has come as a complete surprise to me.

“It’s an amazing honour to be recognised for the hard work that has gone into establishing We Care and I am extremely grateful to a number of my colleagues in North Yorkshire Police who have supported me along the way.”

Commenting on the award winners, North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Ciaron Irvine, lead for Local Policing said: “We are incredibly proud of our four award winners. “To be nominated and recognised at a national level for the invaluable role they play in policing our communities, is a tremendous achievement.

“I congratulate them all on their success.”