Top honour for policing the pandemic

January 21 2021
Top honour for policing the pandemic

THE officer in charge of the region's police response to coronavirus has been honoured for her work.

Avon and Somerset Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in the New Year Honours list.

The award recognises her role in leading the policing response to the COVID-19 health crisis, which has included enforcing lockdown restrictions and cracking down on speeding drivers on quiet roads to providing back up ambulance drivers for the overstretched NHS.

ACC Watson said: "I always wanted to make a difference and it is an honour to serve the communities of Avon and Somerset.

"To receive the QPM for following my vocation makes me feel extremely grateful and proud.

"There are many others whose dedication and support have been key to how we have coped with policing during this pandemic, not least our communities, who have given up so much to follow the regulations and guidance.

"I want to take this opportunity to say thank you."

ACC Watson joined Avon and Somerset Police in 1987. In more than 30 years' service she has pounded the beat in uniform, worked as a detective in the CID and commanded the East Somerset police area.

Her career has included working with the Director of Public Prosecutions to create a pilot programme to tackle domestic abuse by addressing perpetrators' behaviour at an early stage.

She has also worked to improve access to drug treatment for offenders and is the Avon and Somerset lead for gender, which has seen her supporting a campaign to demystify the effects of the menopause in the workplace, with more than 400 officers and staff members now trained to provide support to colleagues.

As an assistant chief constable her current responsibilities include overseeing the force's investigations and operations and chairing the Local Resilience Forum, which brings different agencies and organisations together to plan and prepare for civil contingencies and major incidents.

Also awarded the QPM is Superintendent for Bristol Andy Bennett, who is recognised for his work tackling hate crime and bringing policing and communities closer in the city.

He said: "I am humbled to receive this award, particularly at a time when so many are working tirelessly to help others during the pandemic. I also want to recognise those members of the community who have been prepared to take a step forward, to talk to us and help to break down barriers so we can move towards our goal of truly representing the diverse citizens of Bristol."

The QPM is awarded to police officers for distinguished service or gallantry.