Unsung officers beat a path to awards success

Pc John Pennycook.
Pc John Pennycook.
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Some of the city’s most dedicated police officers have been honoured for the work they do in communities across the Capital.

At the Lothian and Borders Police Force Excellence Awards, eleven bobbies received a community policing award – an accolade backed by the Evening News.

Pc Richard Hooper with his award.

Pc Richard Hooper with his award.

Leith-based officers Pc John Pennycook and Pc Richard Hooper were among the previously unsung heroes who were recognised after being nominated by members of the public.

Pc Pennycook was described as being “only a phone call away” by residents and also won praise from the Royal Navy.

He speaks to warship crews when they dock in Leith, welcoming them and passing on valuable local knowledge of Edinburgh.

The navy described him as “an exceptional community officer, diplomat and a first-class ambassador for the police force and people of Scotland”.

Pc Pennycook said: “It’s great to be recognised by the people you’re out there to help. It’s nice to know the work is being appreciated.”

Many of the people who put Pc Pennycook forward for the award spoke of his willingness to work outside of his normal hours to attend community events.

He said: “I want to meet the needs of the community. It means changing shifts, but people want that identifiable face and the continuity.

“It helps to reassure people that the police are there. I was offered the opportunity to come to Leith five years ago and it’s the best move I ever made.

“There’s a real sense of community and that’s the biggest bonus. It’s got a strong identity and it’s been great to be involved with that.”

One of the annual events Pc Pennycook attends is Newhaven Gala, where it has become tradition that he is the first person in the stocks which he had built by young offenders completing community service.

Residents are then able to hurl wet sponges at the officer after making a donation to charity.

Pc Hooper was put forward by the Citadel Youth Centre, where he has become a familiar face.

He gives up his spare time to sit on the centre’s committee and organises sports activities for youngsters.

“It’s a very pleasant surprise,” said Pc Hooper after yesterday’s awards ceremony.

“I’ve got to know the youths in the area and their families through the centre.

“When you’re speaking to them it’s not in the context of giving them a hard time, and it means they approach you more readily.

“The main thing is teaching them that they are part of the community as well.”

Pc John Lennon was chosen as the top community officer in Lothian and Borders for setting up a partnership between town centre businesses in Galashiels – leading to a 17 per cent reduction in retail crime.

He said: “It is humbling, especially when you hear about what the other officers have done.

“A lot of community work police officers do goes unnoticed. I would like to accept the award on behalf of all community officers. They are doing just as much hard work as myself.”