Top police award presented to Brighton & Hove community leader

Fiona Sharpe is one of the few civilians to have received the Chief Constable’s Commendation


L- R: Chief Constable Jo Shiner, Fiona Sharpe, Alex Hyatt of Sussex Police and Richard Bickersteth High Sheriff of East Sussex (Photo: Sussex Police)

A leading member of the Brighton and Hove Jewish community has been presented with a prestigious award by the police in recognition of her efforts to strengthen police engagement with the Jewish community.

Fiona Sharpe received the Chief Constable's Commendation from the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Jo Shiner, an award which is usually given to police staff rather than civilians.

The recognition paid tribute to Ms Sharpe for “providing expert advice and guidance to enhance police engagement with the Jewish community”, her “incredible support and care” for minority communities and her commitment to “community cohesion and the policing response to hate crime”. It also highlighted the work she does as a chaplain for Sussex Police.

Ms Sharpe, who is chair of the Sussex Jewish Welfare Board and a community liaison officer for the local Jewish Representative Council, said it was “humbling” to receive the award, telling the JC: “When I first received the email inviting me to attend the award ceremony, I thought I was being invited in my role as chaplain. I was so surprised to be told that I was a recipient!

“It’s a real privilege to be able to work closely with Sussex Police on behalf of minoritised communities, ensuring marginalised people have access and a voice with the police."

Since October 7, there has been a marked increase in antisemitic incidents in Sussex, including a memorial for victims and hostages being vandalised multiple times, Israeli flags ripped down and “Free Palestine” put on kosher food in shops.

Sharpe said: "Like most communities, unfortunately we’ve had incidents of antisemitism, with graffiti around the city and harassment at activist events.

“We work closely with local officers, and they visit the shuls and community centres regularly, but … the community feels much more vulnerable.”

She paid tribute to Sussex Police, saying they had “been very supportive and helpful to us in trying to ensure the memorial’s security, along with the community’s safety and sense of wellbeing".

Sharpe chairs the Sussex Police hate crime scrutiny and involvement panel, which assesses how the force handles hate crimes. The resulting report has already led to the implementation by various police departments of recommendations.

Sharpe’s contribution to community cohesion was also acknowledged by her proud husband, Winston Pickett, who said: “Fiona is exceptional. Although [she] works with a variety of communities, and her input is so varied, her warm and caring attitude towards the police staff she works with makes her the ultimate 'Jewish mama' to them.”

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