Two Avon and Somerset police officers appear in the New Year Honours list.
Superintendent for Bristol Andy Bennett and Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Nikki Watson have both been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM).
The QPM is awarded to police officers for distinguished service or gallantry. Officers are nominated through Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire & Rescue Services or the National Police Chiefs’ Council, dependant on their rank.
Supt Bennett is recognised for his work tackling hate crime and bringing policing and communities closer.
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.”
Supt Bennett was born and grew up in Bristol and wanted to be a police officer from an early age. He began his policing career as a special constable in Avon and Somerset in 1988. Having joined the Metropolitan Police in 1990, he returned to Avon and Somerset in 2002, following the birth of his second son.
Much of his 30 years in policing has been spent in neighbourhood roles – mostly in Bristol – working with the community, including a fondly-remembered period as the neighbourhood inspector for the area including Ashley and St Paul’s.
Supt Bennett’s current role includes having responsibility for neighbourhood officers across Bristol and working with partners to keep the most vulnerable in the city safe. He’s also Avon and Somerset’s hate crime lead, and is dedicated to the constabulary’s goal of making organisation more diverse and inclusive.
He lives in Bristol with his wife and three sons, chairs the governors of two schools and is involved with the Bristol Scouts.
ACC Watson is recognised for leading the Avon and Somerset policing response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
She 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 developing, in partnership with the Director of Public Prosecutions, a pilot programme to tackle domestic abuse using, when appropriate, out of court disposals aimed at addressing perpetrators’ behaviour at an early stage.
ACC Watson has also worked to improve access to drug treatment for offenders as well as liaising with the wider criminal justice system to improve joint working and deliver swifter justice. She’s the Avon and Somerset lead for gender, helping the service to create an environment where women can develop and thrive. This role 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 constabulary’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.
She’s married with two daughters.