Crime-fighter nets top award

Stephen Maitland with his certificates
Stephen Maitland with his certificates

A TIRELESS volunteer visited Parliament to pick up an award for his crime-fighting services to the community.

And the runner-up Lord Ferrers Award for Steve Maitland could make it a hat-trick for the 52-year-old, who worked at Pip’s Tackle, formerly known as Anglers Services, in Park Road, Hartlepool, from 1997 to 2011.

Steve Maitland picks up his award from Mary Calam, Director General of the Crime and Policing Group at the Home Office.

Steve Maitland picks up his award from Mary Calam, Director General of the Crime and Policing Group at the Home Office.

As well as the prestigious accolade, for the outstanding contribution of police special constables and police support volunteers, Steve is also a finalist for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee award and also won Durham County Council’s Chairman’s Medal.

The Lord Ferrers Award, named after the former Home Office minister, was in recognition of Steve’s work as Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator. The dad-of-one and stepdad-of-two, who worked at Easington pit for 15 years, has been involved with Neighbourhood Watch for 16 years and the off-shoot Home Watch for a year.

Steve was the only person from the North-East lucky enough to be at the awards bash in the House of Commons, which was attended by Home Secretary Theresa May and Policing Minister Damian Green. Police forces submitted 94 nominations and only exceptional candidates were shortlisted.

His role with Neighbourhood Watch has seen him use his extensive DIY skills to fit more than 80 shed alarms and associated signage in Shotton Colliery, 40 door chimes and countless non-returnable screws on shed doors, light timers and other security measurers in residents’ homes.

The Mail has regularly reported how Steve, as chairman of Shotton and District Angling Club, has helped to turn around the fortunes of the troubled Shotton pond, which was blighted by vandalism and anti-social behaviour, which he won the Chairman’s Medal for, having been nominated by East Durham Area Action Partnership chairman Alan Miller.

The jubilee award is connected to the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network.

Steve, who has a partner called Mary Hughes and lives in Shotton Colliery, said: “I feel absolutely fantastic.

“I was the only one from the North-East at the House of Commons reception.

“I feel very proud.”

Inspector Dave Coxon, of Peterlee Police, said: “Shotton Colliery was suffering from increased crime and needed community confidence restored.

“Steve’s extensive DIY skills and local knowledge made him an excellent community advocate.

“He has dedicated endless hours fitting security measures to homes of vulnerable people and victims of crime in his village.”

Steve joked that he had been “too short” to join the police when he was younger and instead “got a good job with British Coal”.

The granddad-of-three, who is chairman of Shotton Labour Group, Shotton Residents’ Association and the North East Angling Trust (winter league), said he felt he had made a real difference to bringing down crime in his village.

He added: “What keeps me going is just putting a smile on people’s faces.

“Some of the comments on feedback forms are really gratifying, they say they feel safer.”

The Home Secretary hailed the “professionalism and selfless contribution of time” of police special constables and volunteers, adding: “All the nominees are evidence that volunteers can really make a difference to the communities in which they serve.”

Mr Green said: “I would like to congratulate the winners and thank them for their ongoing selfless commitment to making their communities safer.”