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Operation Talla heroes honoured for COVID-19 response work

Officers across the ranks who created the COVID-19 response have been honoured with special awards.

A special awards event celebrated the complex and sometimes dangerous work of officers and staff who delivered Operation Talla at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Achievements including procurement of 3,000 tonnes of facemasks and other protective equipment received formal recognition.

Organised by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), the event in London brought together some of those who kept the Service going during a national crisis.

From the people who created the 4Es strategy to welfare teams, every element of the response was recognised.

NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt, gold command for Op Talla, highlighted how 57 pieces of legislation were passed in 18 months – and coordinated across the four UK governments.

Although lockdown imposed the toughest restrictions ever known in peacetime, it was not a law and order issue.

“Throughout all of this, it’s been a health crisis; it’s not been a policing crisis. It’s been a crisis where we’ve helped,” he said.

“Things that did not exist on Friday did exist on Monday,” he said.

The awards had been organised to say thank you and recognise the successes – as well as the sacrifices – made by officers.

The Home Secretary, who attended along with Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, said the government acknowledged the risks taken by thousands of officers.

“During the uncertainty and fears we were all experiencing, police officers ran towards danger to protect their fellow citizens and Op Talla’s work equipped them to deal with these challenges in the safest way possible,” she said.

“We owe an immense debt of gratitude to every single person who worked throughout this tough period in our history.”

Forces not only policed the restrictions but also ensured the Uplift recruitment campaign was kept on track by moving online – processing 180,000 applications.

Years of Whitehall resistance to officers working from home ended over night with thousands of officers being issued with laptops.

CC Hewitt said it had delivered a step-change at operational level that has continued – particularly with safeguarding.

“There’s lots of things where if we know if you’d have suggested doing them beforehand, people would have laughed at us,” he said.

A major analysis is under way to evaluate not only what worked but what can be developed for the future. Chiefs say one of the biggest steps forward was in improving officer welfare.

Oscar Kilo’s Director, Andy Rhodes said: “We’ve got to hold onto that sort of thing. We have 200,000 totally unique people. Not one of them are the same. We’ve learned that.”

But the work isn’t done.

The event also heard a “sobering reminder” from Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill, National Mobilisation Coordinator, NPoCC for Op Talla that COVID-19 rates are again on the rise.

“We need to be viglilant. We are seeing a rise in cases but we are better prepared than we ever were,” he said.

But the Home Secretary the time is also right to celebrate “the greatest coming together of the local aspect of policing”.

“We look back with a great deal of pride,” she said.

National Award Winners and Citations 

Governance & Coordination Remote 101 Implementation Team

Thames Valley Police and Hampshire ConstabularyThe team successfully implemented a remote call handling solution for 101 calls. This provided a reliable method for answering calls, utilising existing technology, enhancing Business Continuity, and ensuring that staff could work, stay safe and reduce the spread of infection - all whilst maintaining an essential public service and reducing the demand on 999 calls.

Julia Wire
College of Policing Policy & Legislation Lead

Aware of the pressures on frontline policing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Julia ensured that new legislation was developed in a timely manner and accurately translated into regulations and guidance for operational policing. This work was supported by the development of a survey to analyse how frontline officers responded to the regulatory guidance whilst policing the pandemic.

Covid-19 Legislation & Guidance Team
The College of Policing

The team responded to a complex and time critical introduction of new legislation which saw frequent changes over a prolonged period. In a fast moving and unprecedented environment, the team enabled policing to implement the Covid-19 legislation in England and Wales in a swift, easy to understand and consistent way.

Inspector Carl Morgan
South Wales Police

At the forefront of Covid-19 police operational delivery across Wales, Carl’s leadership and enthusiasm to ‘get it right’ was instrumental in the success of a Pan-Wales response to the Pandemic.Carl helped to introduce new policies and procedures, working closely with partners to improve security and safety for those on the frontline, as well as the public.

Eric Mirfin
South Yorkshire Police - NPCC Business Continuity Lead 

Eric led the NPCC Business Continuity (BC) portfolio throughout the pandemic, balancing concurrent challenges of the pandemic and planning to leave the EU without a deal. Eric supported forces by creating a bespoke Covid-19 BC plan and developing two national tabletop exercises to test and develop plans at local level, raising the standard of BC within forces.

Superintendent Emma Baillie
Thames Valley Police (Op Restore)

As Tactical Commander for Op Restore and Chair of the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum, Emma developed a comprehensive partnership plan involving multiple stakeholders. Emma demonstrated determination, drive and focus to achieve agreed goals, as well as playing a key part in setting up the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) arrangement that led to the national police PPE process.

Ben AxelsenThames Valley Local Resilience Forum Manager

Ben was instrumental in the implementation of the multi-agency response to the pandemic for Thames Valley area. Overseeing the first emergency repatriation flight for British Citizens into RAF Brize Norton, as well as having responsibility for one of the few isolation centres in Milton Keynes. His leadership and coordination resulted in a strong, joined up approach across all agencies.

Claire Boot
Hertfordshire Constabulary

Claire was at the heart of Hertfordshire Constabulary’s response to the pandemic, supporting and managing the commitments of several senior commanders, at a time of unease and uncertainty. Claire helped implement several processes to support the wellbeing of staff, including
the dissemination of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Lateral Flow Testing and absence reporting.

Nicola Growcott
National Police Chiefs’ Council Communications Lead

During unprecedented times Nicola led the NPCC Communications team, working round the clock and under considerable pressure to manage and respond to announcements at short notice. All this whilst appreciating the impact on policing in general, the workforce and the public.

NPCC Communications Team
National Police Chiefs’ Council and Mutual Aid support from across the UK

An extended volunteer communications team worked under considerable challenges to deliver an insight-driven communication strategy. The national communication operation achieved unprecedented coordination and consistency across policing in tone, messaging and alignment on key policy issues and highly effective engagement with partners. This impacted positively on public
confidence in the police handling of Covid-19.

Neil Pattinson, Head of Public Safety COVID-19 Response Team, Home Office

Under Neil’s leadership, a robust and effective Home Office Covid-19 response team was formed. The support Neil provided to NPoCC and engagement with Ministers on behalf of the police, was integral to the overall success of the national policing response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chris Hicks
Covid-19 Response Team, Home Office

Chris was integral in developing and strengthening relationships with the Department of Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office; ensuring prompt reimbursement to forces for Personal Protective Equipment. Chris’ support and understanding of the demands on policing was evident when he drove the work to prioritise testing and vaccinations for police.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd
Police Service of Northern Ireland

The safety of the workforce was at the forefront of Alan’s approach to policing the pandemic. Alan created bespoke protection teams who were deployed through a risk management process, provided a designated protection suite in custody to protect staff and detainees from infection, and created an effective process to source and distribute Personal Protective Equipment.

Sergeant Simon Kempton
Police Federation of England & Wales

Simon was a huge support to the Personal Protective Equipment team and pivotal in communicating the findings from research carried out into how to better support officers and encourage the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Simon showed determination and reached out to forces, setting up focus groups for the researchers, whilst influencing senior officers and other staff association members as to the value of this research.

Stuart Sterling
Government Affairs Lead

Stuart ensured that there was consistency with communication from Ministers and the NPCC, working round the clock during the height of the pandemic to brief Ministers, arrange meetings and understand new legislation. Stuart's problem solving and flexibility was integral to the success of Op Talla’s governance and the policing response.

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry NPCC Policy & Legislation Lead

Trevor recognised the need to build strong relationships with key stakeholders; such as the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Border Force. Trevor quickly established communication with external colleagues, sharing data, seeking feedback and ensuring new regulations and guidance were understood and relevant for frontline policing.

Inspector Pete Healey
NPoCC Silver Support

Pete facilitated the recording and sharing of data, ranging from Fixed Penalty Notices to workforce absence recording, ensuring the Command Team were updated with any emerging risks. He also
established and managed the Op Talla Ethics Committee and communicated views which helped shape service delivery and improve trust and confidence in policing.

Inspector Louise Coughlin
NPoCC Op Talla Silver Team

Louise joined the Op Talla team at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, where she hit the ground running, dealing with large volumes of enquiries from forces and partner agencies, coordinating
meetings, and ensuring national guidance was communicated. Louise was integral in the coordination of the Daily Contact Testing process for all 43 forces, resolving issues, providing additional guidance and seeking to ensure the process was fit for purpose for operational policing.

Ministry of Defence Police COVID Management
Chief Inspector James Carr & Nicola Dutton

James and Nicola acted quickly to manage the impact of Covid-19 on the workforce; reducing infection levels with swift and robust control measures, which maximised the safety of staff and ensured continued operational delivery. They guided, coached, and mentored partner agencies, sharing methodology and process to benefit the wider defence service.

Op Talla Resource CapabilityStuart Budgen & Oliver Clark-Darby - College of Policing

Aware of the impact of Covid-19 on police resources; Stuart and Oliver quickly developed and delivered a national resource reporting tool, including the Daily Resource Capability and Special National Operation Capabilities Assessment. This enabled accurate and timely updates to Ministers, supporting critical decision making on behalf of UK policing.

IT and Digital Team
West Midlands Police

The team ensured that West Midlands Police could maintain service delivery during the Covid-19 Pandemic, acting swiftly. Within eight days, they successfully built and distributed over 2,000 laptops across the force, to critical policing functions, and to those staff who were able to work remotely.

Police Uplift Recruitment Team

The team’s commitment, approach to problem solving and partnership working, ensured recruitment of police officers across the 43 Police Forces continued at pace during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As a team, they managed in excess of 180,000 applications, and completed a staggering 50,000 assessments, all whilst engaging with stakeholders and maintaining confidence in the process.

Forensic Capability Network

The team coordinated the forensic supplier market to ensure the priority needs of investigations and the Criminal Justice System were maintained. This included consultation with all forces and forensic providers to understand demand, reviewing road traffic toxicology and the set up of a PCR testing process.

Op Talla Recovery, Reform & Learning Team

The team enabled the identification and sharing of near real time learning and long-term impacts and implications during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Due to the success of these now influential and diverse
networks and mechanisms; learning is now established and embedded in everyday business, influencing local policies, but all recognised by global partners.

Operation Georgia
Merseyside Police

The team was instrumental in the planning and response to several critical events during the pandemic. One such event was the repatriation of UK Nationals from Wuhan and the Princess cruise
ship; the first mass Covid-19 testing facility in Liverpool, and the first national ‘test to release’ programme.

Police Food & Retail Liaison Team

The team represented UK policing and engaged with retailers and business groups, developed appropriate guidance on operational protocols to keep customers and staff safe, as well as bespoke guidance to the tourism and hospitality sector on safe reopening. This engagement reduced the demand on policing and provided high levels of confidence to the industries and consumers.

Health & Wellbeing
Tara McGuinness
Thames Valley Police Occupational Health Nurse

Tara’s passion, empathy and warmth was evident to all staff throughout the pandemic, personally reviewing 1,253 individual risk assessments to ensure vulnerable staff were supported and safeguarded. Tara provided practical support and advice to operational staff during Operation Forth
Bridge, conducting Lateral Flow Tests and managing 45 Occupational Health referrals during the event.

Chief Superintendent Howard Hodges
Op Talla Welfare and Resourcing Lead

Howard coordinated the national reporting mechanisms in order to understand how the pandemic was affecting the national capability for policing across the UK. Howard engaged with staff associations and kept welfare and wellbeing at the forefront of his approach when managing mutual aid, resource and capability.

Chief Inspector Matt Sulley
Thames Valley Police - Op Talla PPE Bronze

Matt’s strong leadership and commitment enabled a small team of officers to coordinate the storage and distribution of over 300 million items of Personal Protective Equipment to police forces. Matt devised an electronic inventory system to track all orders and certification of items, as well as developing a digital National PPE Dashboard to help staff stay safe whilst at work.

Op Talla National Logistics Team

The team worked tirelessly to source, procure and quality assure Personal Protective Equipment from across the world and make it readily available to all police forces in England and Wales, as well as our Overseas Territories. The team devised a new system to record and track each piece of PPE and distributed in excess of 300 million items of PPE, weighing over 3,000 tonnes.

Op Talla Personal Protective Equipment Team

The team provided advice and guidance to forces, researching the best products on the market, checking certification standards and compiling a risk register. The team managed the ongoing development of the Digital Personal Protective Equipment Dashboard and acted as the triage function for forces between the PPE Hub and Department of Health and Social Care.

Superintendent Hannah Wheeler QPM
Op Talla Personal Protective Equipment Lead

It was always evident that Hannah’s priority was the welfare and wellbeing of officers and staff, continually reviewing best practice and guidance to keep workplaces safe. She oversaw the national supply of essential equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), whilst also developing processes and procedures to ensure staff stayed protected and could safely continue to do their job.

Dr Mark Salter
Public Health England Senior Medical Advisor

Mark provided expert advice to the NPCC Civil Contingencies portfolio on the evolving nature of the virus and developed guidance to forces on how to respond to the Pandemic. He also devised a system to manage covert and sensitive details following the introduction of the NHS ‘Test and Trace’ application.

Superintendent Sallie Churchill
West Midlands Police

Sallie developed the principles for West Midlands Police’s Covid-19 patrol and produced a video blog, discussing her own personal experience along with the methods she found useful for increasing her
mental resilience. Sallie also designed the principles for distribution of excess vaccines, which were then adopted as best practice nationally, and recognised by Professor Sir Jonathan Van Tam.

Penelope Lowery
Leicestershire Constabulary

Penelope single handily managed the progression of Leicestershire’s Covid-19 related fixed penalties from ACRO through to prosecution; creating a new system in force, as well as dealing with the many enquiries from officers and the Crown Prosecution Service. Penelope personally processed in excess of 1,550 tickets.

Melissa Dark
Casualty Bureau Coordinator

Melissa became the ‘critical friend’ for Disaster Victim Recovery (DVI) coordinators across the country, reviewing plans and processes and cascading the learning from London and other regions. This included facilitating a virtual tabletop exercise to test and improve the nations response to potential excess deaths. 633 people took part in the tabletop from 17 police forces and 28 partner agencies.

John Crossley
HMICFRS Legislation Lead

John volunteered to support the national policing response to the pandemic and quickly translated new legislation into a workable policy for policing. His keen attention to detail ensured correct and enforceable legislation was created and disseminated to all forces, often at short notice.

Kawan Patel
Home Office Legislation Lead

Kawan is a natural problem solver and showed great resilience with the long hours and ability to review and manage the immense volume of new legislation and guidance published. Kawan created a valuable network of contacts across other government departments which enabled a joined-up approach and supported the national policing response.

Nadia Connor
British Transport Police Head of Justice Solutions

Nadia was described by the Silver Commander as “the cornerstone of the force’s tactical and operational response to the pandemic”. She reviewed and interpreted the new legislation; updating policies and producing briefings, which included training videos to equip frontline officers with knowledge and confidence to correctly apply the new regulations.

Civil Contingencies
Tony Thompkins & Lindy Woodage

Tony and Lindy demonstrated their effort to support and protect the workforce, developing police specific Track and Trace guidance which helped forces to navigate this complex policy, this included an online event where questions and concerns could be raised and resolved. They also reviewed and updated guidance after each legislation change.

‘Staying Safe’ YouTube Animation
Sergeant Robert Anderson & Robbie Unwin

Robert and Robbie created an innovative 'Staying Safe’ during Covid-19 YouTube animation which provided a quick, simple and effective communication with staff to ensure that policing across the UK understood what was required in terms of wearing Personal Protective Equipment and how to stay safe.

Operation Shadowist
National Crime Agency

The team anticipated a significant increase in online abuse involving children during the Covid-19 pandemic and immediately established a team to identify risk and prioritise investigations, whilst remaining Covid safe. In a 12-month period, the team made 154 arrests and safeguarded 310 vulnerable children.

ACRO - Criminal Records Office

The team responded immediately to the new legislation and established a new service within ACRO within a matter of weeks. They managed the processing and payment of all Fixed Penalty Notices, with up to 8,000 tickets processed each week during the height of the pandemic. ACRO’s processes were reviewed in an independent audit, where they received a top grade of ‘Substantial’.

NPoCC Strategic Intelligence & Briefing (SIB) Team

The team designed and delivered a range of bespoke products and over 20 wide ranging intelligence assessments which supported the dissemination of intelligence and information to forces; ensuring that staff could effectively and safely carry out their roles. They produced daily reports to force leads and the Home Office; collating, analysing, and assessing over 46,000 pieces of information at the height of the pandemic.

Thames Valley Police Finance Team

The team created a record management system to manage the ordering and in-bound supply chain of Personal Protective Equipment into the central hub. They took responsibility to train themselves on
PPE standards and regulations; auditing suppliers and inspecting the certification of goods. This supported the safety of the workforce and provided confidence to forces.

Gemma Stannard
Op Talla National Recovery & Reform Lead

Gemma set up Recovery and Reform governance and communication structures, enabling the capture of learning from across all business areas in policing. Gemma worked in collaboration with the College
of Policing through knowledge sharing events, reaching all forces, identifying emerging issues and sharing best practice. Gemma ensured a national debriefing process which has influenced ongoing policy, practice, and readiness for future events.

Organisational Development & Peer Support Team

The team provided critical support, coordination, and guidance to UK Policing, to aid learning as part of the operational response to the pandemic. They arranged up to 3 weekly virtual events, providing
a forum for quick problem solving; often routinely having 600 attendees online. They also produced the Top 10 Operational Priorities Report and regular Operational Briefings.

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