New Year Honours 2021: Bristol hate crime officer honoured

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image copyrightAvon and Somerset Police
image captionSupt Andy Bennett has been awarded the Queen's Police Medal for his work tackling hate crime

A superintendent who defended officers for not stopping protesters pulling down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston has been honoured in the New Year Honours List.

Supt Andy Bennett has been awarded the Queen's Police Medal (QPM) for his work tackling hate crime and bringing police and communities closer in Bristol.

The Avon and Somerset officer said he was "humbled to receive this award".

The force's Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson has also been recognised.

The statue of 17th Century slave trader Colston was torn down and thrown into Bristol Harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest in June.

At the time, the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, criticised Avon and Somerset for its decision not to intervene in the protest, saying it sent a negative message.

But Supt Bennett defended officers, saying it had been a "tactical decision" not to intervene because of the risk of further disorder.

He also said that "he did understand" as the statue had caused "a lot of angst" for the city's black community.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe statue of the 17th Century slave trader was torn down during a Black Lives Matter protest

Supt Bennett, who began his career as a special constable in 1988, is responsible for neighbourhood officers across the city, as well as being the force's hate crime lead.

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."

image copyrightAvon and Somerset Police
image captionAssistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson has been recognised for leading the force's policing response to the pandemic

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson has also been recognised for leading the force's policing response to the pandemic.

She said said it was 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," she said,

"There are many others whose dedication and support have been key to how we have coped with policing during this pandemic - I want to take this opportunity to say thank you."

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