90 days from today is Sun, 26 February 2023
28 December 2019
Two Wiltshire police officers have been awarded a Queen's Police Medal (QPM) in the New Year Honours list.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills and Superintendent Dave Minty were nominated for their roles in the response to the nerve agent attacks in Salisbury and Amesbury last year (2018).
DCC Mills led and chaired the Strategic Coordination Group (SCG), which saw the coming together of more than 26 different local and national partners to develop the multi-agency partnership response to the incidents.
Supt Minty led and chaired the Tactical Coordination Group (TCG), which was charged with coordinating the delivery of the tactical plan in response to the incidents.
A major incident was declared on 5 March 2018 after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury city centre.
A full-scale emergency response began and nine areas were cordoned off in and around the city which saw 90 officers deployed per day to secure the areas and ensure public safety.
Then, on 3 July 2018, two members of the public - Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley - became seriously unwell in Amesbury. Tragically, Dawn later died as a result of her exposure to Novichok.
As a result of the second incident, 11 scenes requiring cordons were set up which required 24-hour guarding by 80 officers and security staff a day.
The response phases for both incidences cumulatively exceeded six months in duration and across both incidents DCC Mills and Supt Minty consistently led and oversaw the highly complex operation, the like of which had not been seen anywhere else in the western world.
DCC Mills, who was on his first day in office as the Deputy Chief Constable on 5 March 2018, chaired a total of 54 SCG meetings in addition to providing the continual link between the Government, Chief Scientists and National Counter Terrorism Policing network.
He set the overall strategy for both the response phases and ensured that the expertise of all agencies was effectively utilised to respond to the incidents.
He said: "I am honoured and truly humbled to have been recognised in this way. It also serves as recognition for the dedication and hard work of every officer, member of staff, partnership professional, volunteer and member of the public who assisted with this set of unprecedented incidents.
"On a personal note, I would also like to pay tribute to my wife for the unwavering support she has given me throughout my career.
"I would also like to pay tribute to Dawn Sturgess who tragically lost her life during the second incident in Amesbury. My thoughts are with her family and friends at what must be a very difficult time as they mark a second Christmas without her."
During the two incidents, Supt Minty chaired in excess of 50 TCG meetings during the response phase and then chaired the Recovery Tactical Coordination Group (RTCG) during the recovery phase, which lasted a year.
He was instrumental in bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders across the military, government, emergency services and partner agencies to enable the successful decontamination and remediation of the contaminated sites across Salisbury and Amesbury.
He said: "I am so grateful to have even been nominated for this award and, like DCC Mills, I will be accepting it on behalf of all our colleagues who worked around the clock to protect our communities.
"We could never have imagined what would unravel after getting the call about two people unwell on a bench in Salisbury but what happened showcased the best of British Policing and partnership working.
"It was an honour to have been involved in responding to these two incidents and to have worked alongside some of the most brilliant professionals I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
"I would also like to thank my wife and son for their unwavering support despite me being away from them for most of the six months covering these incidents."
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: "I would like to extend my personal congratulations to both Paul and Dave - this is a fitting tribute to the dedication and outstanding professionalism that both demonstrated during one of the most testing times in our history.
"I speak on behalf of the Force and our partner agencies when I thank Paul and Dave for their unfaltering leadership of the SCG and TCG.
"It is credit to their diligence and skilful management that our communities in Salisbury and Amesbury were safeguarded once the initial incidents came to light.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to once again thank every police officer, member of staff, volunteer and all our partner agencies, both locally and nationally, for their support throughout an unprecedented six months."
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: "I would like to offer my congratulations to both Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills and Superintendent Dave Minty for this recognition.
"Both are exemplary officers who led officers, staff and volunteers within Wiltshire Police but also a large number of partner agencies in response to these unimaginable incidents.
"Their professionalism and hard-work was clear throughout both incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those affected by the two incidents, in particular, the family and friends of Dawn Sturgess who sadly lost her life as a result of these attacks."