Over 70 Sussex police staff have been commended for their work.

A special ceremony has been held at the Sussex County Cricket Ground in Hove.

The event was for those staff investigating sensitive and complex cases and helping safeguard vulnerable people.

Chief Superintendent Jayne Dando, Head of the Public Protection Command, said:

“Our officers and staff protect some of the most vulnerable people across Sussex.

“We work closely with partners and other police teams to protect both children and adults who are vulnerable through domestic abuse, sexual abuse or because of their mental health or circumstances.”

Among recipients at the ceremony was Hastings’ Detective Constable Mark Austen.

He investigated a case of high risk domestic abuse-related arson with intent to endanger life.

The victim, from Bexhill, had their flat door set on fire by a man, after a series of assaults and considerable associated stress.

The man was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Chief Superintendent Jayne Dando, said their work is usually unseen by the general public:

“Although we do not wear uniform or patrol the streets we are still very much at the front line of operational policing,”

“Much of what my teams do involves long-term exposure to some of the most distressing and challenging personal situations, whether with victims or offenders, in our society.”

Detective Constable Erica Lawrie, who is based in Littlehampton was tasked with investigating historic sexual abuse.

A 30-year-old victim reported he was between 14 and 15 he was sexually abused by his babysitter.

Up until his arrest, the man had been running childcare facilities in holiday resorts abroad.

He had previously been a cub and scout leader in Littlehampton.

Following the seizure and examination of his laptop, evidence was secured.

The man pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial.

He was convicted of three counts of sexual activity and one count of inciting.

He received a three-year prison sentence, will be a registered sex offender or life, and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order severely restricting his access to children and computers.

Erica Lawrie and Mark Austen
Erica Lawrie and Mark Austen