WILTSHIRE Police has won a prestigious World Class Policing Award in recognition of its ‘outstanding’ response to the 2018 Novichok attacks in Salisbury and Amesbury.

On March 4 last year, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury with a Novichok nerve agent known as A-234.

After three weeks in a critical condition, Yulia regained consciousness and was able to speak. She was discharged from hospital on April 9 2018.

Her father Sergei was also in a critical condition until he regained consciousness one month after the attack. He was discharged from hospital on May 18 2018.

A police officer, Nick Bailey, was also taken into intensive care after apparent exposure to the remnants of the toxic agent at Sergei Skripal's residence. By March 22 he had recovered enough to leave the hospital.

On June 30 last year, a similar poisoning of two people in Amesbury, seven miles from Salisbury, involved the same nerve agent.

The man, Charlie Rowley, found the nerve agent in a perfume bottle and gave it to a woman, Dawn Sturgess, who sprayed it on her wrist. She fell ill within 15 minutes and died on July 8, but Mr Rowley, who also came into contact with the poison, survived.

Wiltshire Police believe the second incident was not a targeted attack, but a result of the way the nerve agent was disposed of after the initial poisoning in Salisbury in March.

As the severity of the poisoning emerged, the Wiltshire force declared a major incident, formed the LRF Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG) and led a multi-agency approach in dealing with it.

The threat of the Russian nerve agent Novichok to public health had never been encountered before and the whole operation took place under the glare of the world’s media.

The SCG contained the risk to the wider public, reassured them and cleaned up the affected areas quickly and efficiently.

The police led operation saw the force work with several agencies including Wiltshire Council, The Ministry of Defence, the NHS and other Government bodies.

The force and partners beat off competition from 54 finalists, drawn from more than 100 outstanding entries from across the globe, to win a trophy at the new event recognising outstanding police work from across the world.

It was a complex operation with emerging and unprecedented risks and updates happening constantly, but exceptional leadership and partnership working was brought together to minimise harm to the general population.

Judges commented that this was a “world class, world leading, complex response to one of the significant global events of 2018.”

A spokesman added: “The collaborative partnership response in the meeting and the need to establish new processes to handle sensitive and secret communications at the highest levels of Government, UKIC and CT Policing whilst working in the glare of local, national and international publicity was extraordinary.

“As one of the smallest forces in the United Kingdom, Wiltshire’s ability to cope with the influx of policing support from 42/43 UK forces; ensuring the working conditions of staff; the management of danger that staff and members of the community were in and also ensuring outstanding stakeholder management to explain that the response was being driven effectively was frankly extraordinary.”

The World Class Policing Awards are sponsored by Accenture.

They specifically recognise and celebrate the collaborative nature of policing - whether that is a brilliant investigation, a business change project or a multi-agency partnership - in delivering the most effective and efficient way to protect our communities and keep them safe.

The awards ceremony took place at the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane, London. They were presented by BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

Attendees included chief police officers from across the globe as well as winners, their partners and sponsors.