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The 30th annual Frank Mason Memorial Award ceremony was held in Hemel Hempstead on Friday (April 13).
Detective Sergeant Ben Freeman was presented with the accolade which is awarded in honour of an off duty police officer, who was fatally wounded while intervening in a robbery in Hemel Hempstead town centre.
PC Francis Mason had been walking his dog on April 14, 1988 when he saw a security van being held up by armed robbers in Bank Court. He displayed enormous courage and tackled the gunmen but during his attempt to make an arrest, he was shot and sadly died, despite efforts to save him. As a result of his intervention the security guard was able to get to safety.
The award is presented each year to a Dacorum-based officer who has displayed PC Mason’s qualities of dedication, professionalism and selflessness in protecting the community. The winner is nominated by their colleagues and selected by senior officers in the borough.
DS Freeman joined the Constabulary in April 2005, posted to the Intervention team in Watford. Two and a half years later, he qualified as a Detective Constable before being promoted to Detective Sergeant in 2012.
Six months after his promotion, Ben moved to Rickmansworth Local Crime Unit and, nine months later, joined the team in Dacorum where he has continuously shown drive, determination, knowledge and tenacity to get things done.
Ben was presented with the award by Dacorum Chief Inspector Paul Mitson during a ceremony held at The Forum, in front of fellow officers and dignitaries from across Dacorum and Hertfordshire, including The Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP. Frank’s widow, Jill, was also in attendance along with his brother-in-law John and father-in-law Raymond.
Presenting the award CI Mitson said: “PC Mason was dedicated to his job; he was professional and died selflessly protecting the community of Dacorum. Each year, in his memory, Dacorum identifies one officer who has displayed outstanding policing skills and service to the community.
“DS Freeman is an excellent officer and detective and has served Dacorum tirelessly for the last five years. It is his commitment, dedication and professionalism that merits him receiving this prestigious award.
“Ben always goes the extra mile to deliver for victims and the police service. As a detective he is second to none and is untouchable in his passion to support and protect the vulnerable and victims of crime.”
Following the presentation, a memorial service was held outside the bank where Frank was shot, during which Chief Constable Charlie Hall gave a speech and Sir Mike Penning read a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May.
Wreaths were laid, before a minute’s silence was held and The Last Post was performed by Detective Inspector Vickie Coleman.
DS Freeman said: “I am absolutely thrilled to win the Frank Mason Memorial Award; it is a privilege to win such a prestigious accolade and also a very humbling one. Frank Mason lost his life doing what he believed in and there is no greater sacrifice.
“I have, along with my team, always attempted to achieve the best for the victims of Dacorum and winning this award is down to my colleagues also being willing to dedicate all of their skills and time to deliver as best we can.
“There are some exceptional officers who have won this award through the years and only a small number of Detectives I am now honoured to join, as a winner in the thirtieth year.”