Westminster, the Manchester Arena, Finsbury Park, London Bridge, Parsons Green and Grenfell Tower. 2017 was an exceptionally difficult year for the country. Nevertheless, following each incident there was an equal and opposite response from the emergency services. In London on 26 June, this and much more was reflected in the nominations for the British Transport Police’s (BTP) Make the Difference Awards.
Chief constable Paul Crowther said the awards celebrated BTP’s “very best”. He also touched on the “unprecedented” events of last year before handing out 12 top honours. He added: “We’ve already held some specific events in recognition of our officers and staff over these atrocities. In December, we held a tri-service commendation ceremony at the Guild Hall in London with the Metropolitan and City of London police forces to recognise those that responded to the London Bridge attack. And in January, we held a commendation ceremony at Manchester Town Hall for those who responded to the attack on the Manchester Arena.
“I’ve personally met many of the officers and colleagues who were involved in them and was humbled to hear accounts of what they had done.”
Police Officer of the Year
With its rigorous selection process, getting into the BTP’s firearms squad is no mean feat. So when you discover that PC Ian Redpath is not only a part of the unit, patrolling stations on a day-to-day basis, but is also a disaster victim identification (DVI) officer, it will come as no surprise to hear he was one of four shortlisted candidates for the force’s top award. Described as an inspiration by his sergeant, PC Redpath’s expert knowledge and experience was called upon in the aftermath of the Croydon tram crash, the Manchester Arena bombing as well as the Grenfell Tower Fire.
For putting his life on the line and attending the scenes of some of the country’s worst tragedies, PC Redpath was named Police Officer of the Year for having gone “far beyond what would reasonably be expected of him”.
PC Redpath, who celebrates 28 years with BTP later this year, said: “I’m quite fortunate in the fact I have a senior management team who know about the complexities of the work, and the team that I work with in the firearms department are all extremely supportive. I think unless you’ve got that, it’s not possible to do it, when you’re released for these [DVI] duties, they’re taking up the slack that you leave behind.”
He added that the trophy will be stored in the safest place he knows of – on the boss’ desk at the police station.
In memory of PC Winter
From one of the force’s most experienced officers to one of its newest, PC Ryan Arnold was presented with the Keith Winter Cup for Police Probationer of the Year. The Keith Winter Cup was given to BTP in 1970 by Leonard and Mary Winter in memory of their son PC Keith Winter, who died whilst on duty following a propane gas explosion at Billingsgate Crossing, Hull.
There were numerous examples that made PC Arnold stand out. For instance, he showed outstanding professionalism and compassion taking a fatality statement from a young girl who was the last person to see her father alive. PC Arnold is also one of only a few officers who have successfully completed a response driving course while still in their two-year probationary period.
It wasn’t just BTP staff who were recognised. Chaplains from the Railway Mission were given the Community Volunteer award for the ongoing care and support they provide to staff and passengers, particularly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks at Manchester Arena and London Bridge. In the hours after these atrocities, Railway Chaplains made their way to the scenes to provide support to the injured, members of the public and the emergency services.
Executive director Liam Johnston said: “Because of the nature of our work it is difficult to raise our profile without breaking the confidential relationship we have with the ‘railway family’. This award is a recognition of the team and the work we do across the UK.”
There were many deserving winners across the categories and judges undoubtedly had an unenviable job deciding which acts of professionalism, courage, compassion, commitment and leadership were more deserving than others.
2017 will be remembered as a year of great tragedy but, as celebrity host Anneka Rice stated during the ceremony, it was also a year that brought into sharp focus just how much we rely on the police force.
Make the Difference Awards winners:
- Working Together for a Safer Railway – Inspector Brian McAleese and the Dalmuir Team – Tackling antisocial behaviour in Helensburgh, Scotland.
- Investigation of the Year – DC Chris Bolton and Witness & Case Officer Gary Rose – Successful conviction following the sexual assault of a 17-year-old female.
- Police Probationer of the Year Keith Winter Cup – PC Ryan Arnold – Undoubted enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism.
- Community Volunteer – The Railway Chaplains – Continuous voluntary support and care to railway staff and passengers.
- PCSO of the Year – PCSO Laura Herson – Her actions during a number of serious incidents, including helping a distressed pregnant victim of domestic violence.
- Building a Better BTP – Pioneering the incident response stretcher – Developing equipment to improve the process of recovering bodies from the railway.
- Police Staff of the Year – Byron Chamberlain -Inspirational leadership to staff in the scientific support, DVI, major investigations and major and serious organised crime units.
- Special Constable of the Year – Special Police Sergeant Reiss Badham – 16 arrests and responses to five railway fatalities across 1,300 hours volunteering in 2017.
- Outstanding Teamwork – Career Development and Talent Management Team – Developing a promotions process that was recognised as best in class by the College of Policing.
- Police Officer of the Year – PC Ian Redpath – Work across BTP’s firearms and DVI units.
- Inspirational Leadership – Temporary Chief Inspector John Loveless – Organising Operation Engulf at Stratford station. This resulted in 39 arrests and more than a dozen offensive weapons being seized.
- Industry Recognition Award – Inspector Jayne Lewis – Repairing a fractious relationship between the force and Merseyrail following a high-profile court case brought against a member of the operator’s staff.
Read more: Remembering 7/7