Alumni Spotlight: PC Liam Morris, Operation Grow, South Yorkshire Police
Thursday 22nd December 2022
Liam Morris joined South Yorkshire Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, after working as a PE teacher for 12 years in Sheffield and Rotherham.
Since joining the force, he has worked as a neighbourhood police officer in Rotherham Central and contributed significantly to the award-winning ‘Operation Grow’. The operation has helped tackle serious organised criminal activity and has issued 102 warrants, made 25 arrests, prohibited 70 properties under the Housing Act and removed £20.5million worth of cannabis from the streets.
Hear more about Liam’s work to protect the public and reduce community tensions below, in this month’s ‘Alumni Spotlight.’
PC Liam Morris (second from the right) and the Rotherham Operation Grow team receiving the ‘Police Team’ award at the Cutlers’ Company Police and Fire Service Awards. Photo credit: South Yorkshire Police
Police Constable Liam Morris:
“I joined South Yorkshire Police just over two years ago via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme. Whilst on the programme I was stationed at Rotherham Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, where I have remained and continue to tackle crime and drive positive community work as a neighbourhood police officer.
“Before joining the service, I studied at Sheffield Hallam University and briefly worked for the Football Association and then as a PE teacher for 12 years in Sheffield and Rotherham, so it’s safe to say I know the area well.
“Since joining the service, I have been a part of a huge operation in Rotherham to tackle cannabis cultivations. Operation Grow was launched after parts of Rotherham experienced several power outages in November 2021, which caused major disruptions and heightened community tension. Northern Power attributed this to people making ‘illegal connections’ to the electricity network to facilitate cannabis cultivations in the area.
“The operation quickly became a district wide initiative, after it became clear that profits made from cannabis cultivations were being used to fund Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) and criminal activity, including serious violence and modern-day slavery. Our work here has been a big step in reducing serious crime and violence and protecting members of the public.
“I worked with Northern Power, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Border Force, Immigration, Department for Work and Pensions and my policing colleagues to gather intelligence and narrow down the locations of the cannabis cultivations in the neighbourhood.
“Since the launch of the operation, we have collectively seized over £20.5 million worth of cannabis and issued 102 warrants – about 80 of which I was personally involved in. 70 properties have been prohibited by the council under the Housing Act, which means the properties can’t be used again until the landlord rectifies certain defects and puts necessary measures in place which prevents them from being reused for further cannabis cultivations, to ensure long-term protection. We made 25 arrests and worked with the Crown Prosecution Service to secure convictions, with 16 offenders convicted so far and more cases pending. Rotherham hasn’t experienced any power outages since December 2021, two months after the operation formally begun.
“The operation received a Cutlers Award for partnership working and was shortlisted in this year’s Tilley Awards, winning in the Partners category. Rotherham Council was also a finalist in the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) awards for their work on the project and I was nominated in Police Now’s first ever Alumni Impact Awards for my contribution. The success of the operation was absolutely down to strong partnership working, as well as excellent leadership from my sergeant.
“I worked on Operation Grow for a year, and although my focus now is on reducing anti-social behaviour at a particular known hotspot, I anticipate I will be contributing to the operation again in the future as we continue to look at methods to disrupt organised crime and secure necessary prosecutions.
“The operation made me realise how much I enjoy working on warrants, and I was able to undertake Method of Entry (MOE) training as part of the work. I may look to join the force’s Tactical Support Group (TSG) in future, which works on key areas including providing specialist support for searches and crime scenes, but for now I remain dedicated to my role as a neighbourhood officer.
“Becoming a police officer has been a hugely rewarding experience, as I know my work every day involves protecting the public and making my community safer. My advice for anyone thinking of joining the police is to just go for it. Now is a great time to apply, with a huge push on recruitment, and as an officer on the frontline you can be a part of enormous community change, protect lives, and make a difference.”
Applications for Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme are currently open to talented graduates who want to use their stories, backgrounds and degrees to make a difference in society.