Awards recognise Wakefield police and community heroes

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A team that unravelled a complex £4m fraud and a community hero who shielded a frail 76-year-old man from aggressive street drinkers have been commended in the Wakefield Policing Awards.

Specialist officers at Wakefield’s Proceeds of Crime Team received praise for their investigation into former solicitor Linda Box who stole more than £4m from clients, including those who were recently bereaved.

The team secured a £1.9m confiscation from Box, who is currently serving a seven year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Brett Barlow was awarded after stopping to help an elderly man, who was being abused by street drinkers on Sun Lane last November.

The good Samaritan was himself threatened with violence but he shielded the man and pushed back one of the street drinkers until police arrived. 

Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, District Commander of Wakefield Police, said: “Once again this year we have seen officers and residents go above and beyond in our district in doing their part to help protect those most in need and catch those who threaten our communities.

“At a time when staff are under significant pressure due to increased demand, it is heartening to see colleagues are doing everything asked of them and often going much further to keep our communities safe.

“Some of these awards have also been given for the care officers have shown to highly vulnerable victims.

“And it is very pleasing for me to see the compassion and dedication colleagues continue to give to those who need it most.”

Other officers to be commended in the ceremony included long-serving PCSO Ken Short, who was named the people of Wakefield’s top officer following a vote for the ‘public choice’ category.

The South Elmsall PCSO also achieved a second commendation for his bravery in helping to tag a quad bike rider with a DNA spray in South Elmsall, leading to a conviction in court.

PCSO Short approached and challenged a group of riders behaving anti-socially, getting close enough to spray one with the new tagging agent. The spray, together with his body cam footage, led to the man being convicted in October. 

Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, District Commander of Wakefield Police, said: “We received hundreds of nominations for the public choice awards, and it is really brilliant that residents felt enthused enough about the service we provided to take the time to vote.

“Ken should feel proud of himself for the good will his actions have generated in his community, and for the key role he also played in helping to secure the force’s first conviction of an anti- social rider through the use of a DNA spray.”

A duo that helped to convict a historic sex offender were also praised.

Detective Constable Lisa Redfern and case builder Joanne Wynn were both commended for their work in securing the conviction of South Elmsall man Terence O’Reilly.

He pleaded guilty to 17 sexual offences, including six rapes, in Leeds Crown Court this year. And he was jailed for 26 years for decades of historic offending against vulnerable victims.

Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Dan Tillet, DC Richard Wingfield, PC Andrew Mortby, PC Katie Vaines, PC Daniel Kirby, case builder Bernard Vickers and analyst Catherine Clarke were commended for their work in catching a car theft gang.

Following a complex investigation, the team were able to identify two career criminals as responsible for a series of high value car thefts.

The awards event recognised police and residents who have shown bravery, compassion and tenacity in protecting the vulnerable and catching and punishing criminals.

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

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