Team who investigated Stuart Porter antiques fraud receive outstanding professionalism award

Op Floyd team
Op Floyd team
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The team who investigated a series of thefts and investment fraud have recieved an outstanding professionalism award from Lincolnshire Police.

The force held its annual awards ceremony last night (Thursday, October 26) and during the awards, the outstanding professionalism gong went to the Operation Floyd team made up of Sergeant Rachel Blackwell, Constable Ian Freeman and Detective Sergeant Jennifer Lovatt.

The Operation Floyd team investigated the antiques dealer Stuart Fraud, who posed as an antiques expert and was jailed for five years and four months in November 2016. He benefited to the tune of more than £200,000.

The awards ceremony heard that Sgt Blackwell identified the scope of the fraud as a result of “completing an assessment of community intelligence and her diligent initial key witness enquiries”.

Sgt Blackwell uncovered that Porter had stolen property belonging to a large number of victims and hidden their property at a number of locations across the East Midlands and the North East of England.

She went onto coodinate a series of search warrants, resulting in the seizure of thousands of exhibits and the recovery of many of the stolen items. She even volunteer as an exhibits officer, using her skills as a photographer she catalogued the exhibits into a format that could be shown to victims and witnesses.

Constable Ian Freeman was appointed as the officer in the case and despite having relatively little experience of investigating crimes of this type he began the process of gathering, assessing and presenting a vast amount of evidence, including complex financial evidence which took many months.

Constable Freeman managed the preparation of a complex advice file, liaising with CPS and the prosecution barrister to ensure the completion of all relevant tasks in an accurate and expeditious manner.

Detective Sergeant Jen Lovatt managed what was a challenging investigation with a variety of strands including, offences relating to financial loss and dishonesty as well as issues of safeguarding and supporting the many vulnerable victims of these offences.

Detective Sergeant Lovatt provided clear direction and support for the investigation, working tirelessly to ensure that appropriate lines of investigation were followed.

The citation said she went “above and beyond her normal duties” by continuing to provide support even after she left to take up a new position with the East Midlands Special Operations Unit.

The citation said: “This complex and protracted investigation took three years to complete. It is without doubt that the hard work and professionalism of the team in gathering and presenting the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service as well as the Crown Court demonstrates their continued professionalism and commitment to provide a positive outcome for the many victims.

“The detail and quality of their work ultimately led to the defendant pleading guilty and receiving a four year custodial sentence, which also resulted in there being no requirement for a costly and lengthy trial.”

Sgt Blackwell was unable to attend the awards ceremony but John Lockward presented the award to Constable Freeman and Detective Sergeant Jennifer Lovatt.

Chief Constable Bill Skelly opened the awards ceremony. He said of the evening: “The awards to be presented here represent the importance of dedication to duty, exceptional performance and professionalism of the police officers, both police and partner staff, volunteers of this force and members of the public.”

The evening was also attended by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire John Lockwood, who also acted as presenting officer, and the family of PC Stacey Pyke, who was tragically killed shortly into her service as a police officer.

The full list of recipients and their awards are as follows:

Special Constabulary Officer of the Year: Special Sergeant (now S/Insp) Christopher Gow

Stacey Pyke Award for Student Officer of the Year: Constable David Revitt

Copper’s Copper: Constable Dawn Young

Above and Beyond Award: Emma Jackson

Volunteer of the Year: Lynn Chantrey. Lynn was also awarded the Chief Constable’s Overall Annual Recognition Award

Outstanding Professionalism: Op Floyd team: Sergeant Rachel Blackwell, Constable Ian Freeman, Detective Sergeant Jennifer Lovatt

PRIDE Award of the Year: Sergeant Paul Wills

Citizen of the Year Award and Public Appreciation Certificates: Four members of the public (who did not wish to be named)

Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Service: Constable Rizwaan Chothia

Making a Difference Award: Victim Lincs Team: Olga Babiak, Jess Collings, Emma Fillingham, Hannah Gosling, Sabiha Kathrada, Izabella Kiss, Emily Luxton, Barney Porter