The incident happened in Canterbury in September 2020 when two men suspected of making unwanted sexual advances towards a number of women in the city centre were spotted on CCTV getting into a taxi with two new potential victims.
Kent Police was notified and Natalie Harman, who works at the Force Control Room in Maidstone, carried out research on the taxi firm and was able to telephone the driver without the suspects’ knowledge and arrange for him to pull over.
The men ran away when they saw the attending police officers but Natalie continued to liaise with the CCTV operators to establish their location and help to secure their arrests, whilst also ensuring the welfare of the women they were with.
Natalie was named Control Room Dispatcher of the Year at the national Control Room Awards virtual award ceremony, which is held every year to celebrate the unsung heroes of police, fire and ambulance services across the UK.
She was described in her citation as being passionate about what she does, and tenacious in her support for her colleagues and the public.
Natalie said: ‘I was speechless to have even been nominated as a finalist, let alone win it.
‘I have worked for Kent Police for 14 years and love what I do. I am so proud to have achieved this award and help make a difference.
‘On the night my two children watched the ceremony with me and when they turned to me and said ‘we’re so proud of you mummy’, words can’t explain how it meant to me.
‘I would like to thank all the people who work in control rooms across all the emergency services as they really do such an amazing job.’
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge, Head of Central Operations at Kent Police said: ‘Our control room staff deal with challenging situations on a daily basis and play a vital role in supporting and protecting members of the public and providing information to police officers on the ground to help them do the same.
‘I am incredibly proud of Natalie for being named Control Room Dispatcher of the Year, which is a richly deserved and prestigious accolade. Her award symbolises the fantastic work that she and her colleagues carry out every time they engage with a victim or witness of crime, and I am very grateful for everything they do.’