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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Nikki Watson, Assistant Chief Constable

Nikki is the Assistant Chief Constable for Prevention, Protection and Prosecutions at Avon and Somerset Police

Nikki has worked in several roles across the force including Commander for the Wider Somerset Area and was promoted to Assistant Chief Constable in 2015.

Key responsibilities

Nikki heads the Investigations and Operational Support directorates which includes:

  • Chair of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), working with partners to plan and prepare for civil contingencies and major incidents
  • Chair of the Regional Economic and Cyber Crime Strategic Co-ordinating Group which sets priorities, directs resources and scrutinises performance against the economic crime threat such as fraud
  • Chief Officer for major and complex crimes as well as investigations and intelligence. 
  • Chief officer for the planning of major public and sporting events, for example Glastonbury festival
  • Chief officer for the investigation of serious and organised crime
  • Leading on events or activities that could affect public confidence
  • Leading on the Demand Flow project tasked with understanding the calls on our service, reviewing processes and systems, exploring ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and addressing pressure points to make more frontline staff available
  • Responsible for dealing with child vulnerability, adult vulnerability and complex crime
  • Overseeing the work of the Tactical Support team which made up of the roads, firearms, dogs policing and mounted patrol teams
  • Identifying and adopting learnings for example from partnerships with other organisations and from, misconduct hearings
  • Strategic lead for gender equality for Avon and Somerset Police, looking at the issues impacting women at work with the aim of creating an environment where women can develop and thrive  

Creating safer and better communities

Nikki says: “I set out to become an Avon and Somerset police officer because I wanted to help create safer and better communities in which people can live free from the fear of crime.

In the years since, my ambition hasn’t changed however the crimes we face daily have. Nowadays, increasingly complex crimes such as organised and cyber-crime, are part of our daily workload.

We are more than equal to these challenges and are constantly developing and improving our ways of working so that our officers – from frontline to specialist teams and investigators – are efficient, proactive, agile and available. We are committed to delivering an outstanding police service that helps keep our communities safe.

This was the first police service I joined, and my ambition was to become a Chief Superintendent. I am truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to progress to my current role, thanks to the support and encouragement I received.

I was positively influenced and shaped by female and male inspirational leaders and supported by people I respected and trusted. They gave me the confidence to keep going and encouraged me to keep moving forward.

One of my passions is for coaching and mentoring. As a qualified coach, it is my turn to hopefully be an inspirational figure for tomorrow’s leaders and I am dedicated to improving inclusion and diversity in every corner of the service.

Our ambition is to become the UK’s most inclusive police force. We are everybody’s police and it is important that we had better represent the communities we serve and attract more people to join us from many diverse backgrounds and with a variety of experience, life skills and qualification.

It has been rewarding, during my time, to see the introduction of initiatives such as work-life balance seminars, flexible working/part-time support networks and promotion preparation workshops to enable many more people to consider a career in policing.

I have never regretted joining Avon and Somerset Police and I could never imagine doing anything else other than policing. I hope that I can encourage others to say the same.”

  • 1987 – Uniform officer and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) roles at Avon and Somerset Police
  • 2000 – Chief Inspector -Operational Planning
  • 2002 – Staff Officer to Chief Constable Steve Pilkington
  • 2003 – Operational Chief Inspector at Bath
  • 2004 – Superintendent – Seconded to Bristol City Council
  • 2006 – Superintendent – Firearms and Roads Policing Avon and Somerset Police
  • 2006 – Basic Command Unit (BCU) Area Commander in Somerset East
  • 2013 – Commander for the wider Somerset area
  • 2014 – Temporary Assistant Chief Constable – Local Policing
  • 2015 – Assistant Chief Constable for Prevention, Protection and Prosecutions
Career highlights
  • Overall responsibility for leading Avon and Somerset Police’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic both externally and internally
  • Giving evidence on stop and search to the McPherson enquiry as part of the report on the death of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1999. Later seconded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to report on recommendations being implemented by London Metropolitan Police
  • Managing implementation of recommendations and learnings from the Serious Crime Review (2009 – 2010)
  • Responsible for a drugs intervention programme and increasing the number of offenders getting into drug treatment during secondment to Bristol City Council
  • Working with the Criminal Justice System, the Crown Prosecution System (CPS) and the courts to improve joint working and present best evidence to help secure prosecution. By helping to make the criminal justice process more efficient, swifter justice can be secured for victims and offenders dealt with appropriately
  • Developing, in partnership with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), a pilot domestic abuse perpetrator programme. This enables out of court disposals (OOCDs) to be given where appropriate so a perpetrator can attend a programme to address their offending behaviour without first having to go to court
  • Overseeing the introduction of Avon and Somerset Police’s online reporting system reducing calls to 999 and 101 by 16 per cent (2019-2020)
  • Supported a campaign as the Gender Equality lead to make the menopause a non-taboo subject to discuss in the workplace. Trainers have worked with over 180 managers and 260 staff putting them in a much better place to ask for the help they need or provide support to colleagues and those close to them
Qualifications and awards

  • Public Order Gold Commander *
  • Events Gold Commander *
  • CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) Gold Commander *
  • Counter-terrorism Commander
  • Strategic Firearms Commander
  • Civil Contingencies Gold Commander *
  • Accredited Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Silver Tactical Commander
  • Accredited Level 5 Coach – coaching officers who are preparing to undertake strategic command courses

*Gold = with overall strategic command of operations

Personal life
  • Married with two daughters
  • Regularly participates in outdoor pursuits including running and hillwalking
  • Enjoys travelling and skiing
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