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Operation Dispense: Police Now officer receives award alongside her colleagues for tackling serious violence in Staffordshire

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Operation Dispense: Police Now officer receives award alongside her colleagues for tackling serious violence in Staffordshire

Friday 4 March 2022

Detective Constable Emma Holloway, who recently graduated from Police Now’s National Detective Programme, has been recognised alongside her colleagues in Staffordshire Police for her work on Operation Dispense and for saving the life of a vulnerable person.

Operation Dispense was launched in May last year and ran throughout the summer, in response to an increase in knife crime and serious violence in the north of the county.

Officers from across Staffordshire’s northern policing areas of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme were involved in the operation and together ran high-visibility patrols, knife sweeps and increased stop-and-searches in hotspot areas. A media campaign also ran throughout the summer to encourage members of the public to hand in knives that were soon to become illegal under new legislation in the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.

The officers also set up data sharing agreements with partner agencies, to identify problem areas and proactively support those at risk of becoming involved in serious violence. Through their diligence they identified a gap in support for victims and offenders aged between 18-25, who were likely to become involved in serious violent crime.

The team worked with partners such as social care organisations and housing agencies to address these gaps in support. Together they better protected homes, rehoused people where necessary, safeguarded victims and offered higher levels of support to those at risk of falling into the cycle of crime.

Detective Constable Emma Holloway said: “Operation Dispense has certainly been a team effort, which saw a lot of proactive policing in the area to reduce violent crime and better safeguard members of the public.  

“As part of the Operation, I investigated and supported the victims of a robbery case in a known crime hotspot area. The suspect was a 15-year-old boy, and I worked with partner agencies to put in support measures for him to prevent further criminality. The measures seem to have been working as he hasn’t committed any further offences since.  

“That being said, we also policed in a reactive capacity, to remove a number of known serious offenders off the streets, which will have a real and meaningful impact on the lives of many in Staffordshire who may otherwise have been victim to or become involved in serious violent crime. We saw a huge reduction in serious violent incidents following the operation and made at least 27 arrests.” 

Detective Inspector Scott McGrath, who ran the operation, said: “Emma’s efforts as part of Operation Dispense helped to tackle serious violence in the north of the county.

“Her and the team’s work had a huge impact and helped to prevent a predicted increase in these offences. The aim, which remains a priority for the force, was to stop serious violence before it begins.

“By approaching serious violence as a public health problem, officers continue to work to improve the health and quality of life of all people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.”

The Operation Dispense team was presented with the Investigative Services Award at the Force Awards ceremony, held at the National Memorial Arboretum in October.

In addition to this DC Emma Holloway and her colleague PC Lees were also presented with a certificate of commendation at an awards ceremony in November, in recognition of the actions they took to save the life of a vulnerable person in crisis.

DC Holloway and PC Lees were deployed to an incident concerning the safety of a member of the public, who was on the wrong side of a bridge over the A500. When the woman became in serious danger of falling off the bridge, DC Holloway and PC Lees reached out over the safety barrier and, at great personal risk, managed to pull her to safety. The woman was prevented from falling only due to the actions of the two officers, who continued to offer support and care before she could be appropriately cared for by ambulance staff and mental health services.

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