Police officers covering the Bilton and Woodfield wards have been recognised for their efforts by the communities they work within.
PC Daniel Walker and Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) James Skaith have been named the Harrogate District’s Officers of the Year by the North Yorkshire Police Authority.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘PC Sky-Walker’ and ‘PC Smiley’ by schoolchildren within their ward, both are well known in the area and were nominated by members of the public.
“We are very proud to have been nominated at all,” said PC Walker, a community governor at Woodfield Primary School. “It’s not something we asked for and it’s great to hear.”
The awards are a recognition for North Yorkshire officers who have gone above and beyond in the call of duty, and just two officers, a PC and a PCSO, are picked from each of six districts across the county.
Newly-married PCSO Skaith, who missed the awards ceremony as it was the night before his wedding, received four nominations, while PC Walker took a further two.
“We are very proud,” said PCSO Skaith, 30, who has become a familiar figure in the six years he has covered the Bilton and Woodfield wards.
“It’s nice to hear that people are happy with what we do.”
PC Walker, 37 last week, has worked in the area for two years, having transferred from Hampshire in July 2010.
“Harrogate is such a fantastic place to be a police officer,” he said. “We work really closely with members of the community - James especially is so well known.
“Everybody knows his face and everybody knows his name, in a recent graffiti incident, it was very easy for James to find out who was responsible.
“Community policing is so rewarding. You do feel like you’re achieving something, rather than charging in with blue lights and putting a sticking plaster on.”
For PCSO Skaith his work as a support officer has always been motivated by his connection with the community.
“I’ve grown to know Bilton and Woodfield very well,” he said. “I always see familiar faces and I like meeting people from all different walks of life.
“Over the years we have seen a huge improvement on all sorts of crime and anti-social behaviour - when I first started I used to hear rumours of fights and things but it’s now a very peaceful area.”
PCSO Skaith, who has more than 800 followers on his Twitter account @PCSO_5391, spends a lot of time working with young people in the area, paying visits to schools, the youth club and local parks.
“I remember my first encounter with a police officer as a kid, being told not to cycle on the pavements on James Street,” he said.
“It sticks with you and it’s important to make those first impressions a good one.”