Meet the award-winning Yorkshire Police Officers fighting knife crime in the city

Four Yorkshire police officers have received a national award for their work to stop children carrying knives and becoming involved in cross-county drug dealing.

From left to right Sergeant Neil Northend, Police Constable Andy Collinson, Police Community Support Officer Justin Piercy and Superintendent Allan Harder. Photo credit: North Yorkshire Police.

Receiving the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Child Centred Policing’ was Superintendent Allan Harder, Sergeant Neil Northend and Police Constable Andrew Collinson.

The officers have been awarded for their work on 'Operation Divan' which is a programme designed to encourage young people not to carry knives and weapons.

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It also educates them issues affecting children, including the risk of sexual exploitation, bullying and becoming involved in cross-county drug dealing.

Sergeant Neil Northend said that young people often believe carrying a knife makes them safer.

He said: "Keeping young people safe from harm is at the centre of what we do as a youth engagement team.

"We talk to young people who mistakenly think they are safer carrying a knife and show them risks and the sad reality that in the majority of cases, they can become the victim of that knife.

"Seeing their opinions and behaviour change and knowing both the individual and community as a whole is safer, is massively rewarding.”

Superintendent Allan Harder, North Yorkshire Police lead for safeguarding said that the key goal for Operation devan is keeping young people informed and safe and not criminalising them unnecessarily.

He said: "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.”

Another winner was Police Community Support Officer Justin Piercy who was named the ‘PCSO of the Year’.

PSCO Piercy won the award for establishing the 'We Care' scheme which supports and protects the vulnerable in Yorkshire communities.

The scheme works by offering people with learning disabilities or difficulties a 'We Care' card which has contact details for members next of kin and helps control room staff identify a vulnerable person.

PCSO Piercy 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. Without their help, it would not have been possible to get the scheme up and running, to ensure we are doing everything we can to safeguard some of the most vulnerable in our communities."

The 2019 National Police Chiefs' Council Local Policing Awards took place on Tuesday, March 5.