Hastings detective awarded for ‘outstanding work’ investigating arson attack

DC Austen (right) and DC Lawrie with their certificates. Picture: Sussex Police
DC Austen (right) and DC Lawrie with their certificates. Picture: Sussex Police

A Hastings detective has been awarded for his ‘outstanding work’ investigating an arson attack.

Detective Constable Mark Austen from the Hastings-based Safeguarding Investigations Unit (SIU) was one of more than 70 offices and staff commended for their work for the Public Protection command at a special ceremony.

A Sussex Police spokesman said DC Austen ‘carried out an outstanding piece of work’ when he investigated a case of high risk domestic abuse-related arson with intent to endanger life.

They added: “The victim was a Bexhill woman whose flat door was set on fire by a man, with whom she had been in a relationship, after a series of assaults and considerable associated stress for her.

“Mark was extremely supportive to the victim and spent a lot of time reassuring her throughout the investigation.

“The quality of the investigation coupled with the quality of service provided to the victim in this case was of a very high standard.

“Set in the context of independent working and limited experience, Mark’s work was exceptional and the man was finally convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.”

Chief Superintendent Jayne Dando, Head of the Public Protection Command, who presented Certificates of Commendation at the 1st Central County Cricket Ground in Hove, 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. We also have strategic force responsibility for working with other agencies in the management of some of the most dangerous offenders in Sussex.

“It is an increasingly complex and challenging area of work, and the demand is growing all the time, but it can also be highly professionally satisfying.

“Our work is usually unseen by the general public, but although we do not wear uniform or patrol the streets we are still very much at the front line of operational policing, working alongside all our other colleagues - as well as with a wide range of partners from statutory and other agencies.

“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.

“I am very proud of the dedication and resolute professionalism that our officers and staff show every day.”

For a variety of legal and personal reasons, it is not possible to report publicly on many of the awards at this time.

Access to a wide range of personal advice and information on domestic abuse, child protection, offences against children, and related issues, is available via the Sussex Police website.

Anyone who is the victim of such offences, or who knows anyone who is, can contact the police online or by calling 101, and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced investigators.