Corps values - the Public Servants of the Year Awards

13 May 04
Team spirit and cohesion were celebrated in this week's Public Finance Public Servants of the Year Awards even the individual winners drew attention to their importance. Editor Mike Thatcher reports on the prizewinning evening that celebrates the side of the public sector that's often neglected by the media...

14 May 2004

'It's magnificent,' said Claudia Sturt. 'We're completely shocked and delighted.'

The governor of Dartmoor Prison was reacting to the news that the jail's resettlement assessment centre had picked up two trophies in the Public Servants of the Year Awards. Not only did the centre triumph in the Uniformed Services Team category, it also picked up the top group award for Outstanding Public Service Team of the Year.

Prison officers do not often win awards at this level, and the team members celebrated the night in style at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

'This time a year ago, Dartmoor was under threat of closure or privatisation. But we are now making huge strides and the resettlement unit is a centre of progressive practice, which is spreading its culture more widely through the rest of the prison,' said Sturt.

She complimented the team members for the way they had introduced innovative working practices and built up a strong rapport with prisoners. 'They are a close-knit team and they all muck in together,' the governor added.

Individuals as well as teams were recognised at the awards, which have now been run by Public Finance for four years. Badrul Hussain picked up the other big award on the night – the Outstanding Public Servant of the Year. He was recognised for his huge efforts to improve community cohesion on the streets of Tower Hamlets in East London.

Badrul picked up the frontline worker award as well as the main prize, but he, too, was keen to emphasise that this was not a one-man job. 'Winning such an award is only possible because of the work of my team of full-time and part-time staff,' he told PF.

Around 750 people attended the glittering ceremony on Monday May 10. The event was introduced by Sir Michael Lyons, the director of Inlogov and the chair of the judging panel, and there were also contributions from local government minister Nick Raynsford and Cabinet Secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull. The ceremony itself was presented by Dermot Murnaghan from BBC News and Felicity Barr from ITN News.

Raynsford said the inclusion of team categories sent out an important message to the public sector. But he emphasised that teams could operate across organisations as well as internally.

'Here is one of the great challenges for the delivery of public services in the years ahead – our ability to join up effectively with others doing related jobs to ensure that we give a better, more seamless and more cost-effective service to the public we serve.'

Turnbull reflected on the differences between team and individual sports. He compared the team ethic in football and cricket with the individual nature of golf – where achieving a good round can lead to calls for your handicap to be cut. 'Alas, working in the public sector is closer to the golf culture,' he suggested.

The Cabinet Secretary said that parliamentary accountability in the UK worked by examining what had gone wrong in the past rather than looking around the world for examples of things that have gone right.

'Announcement of something achieved is met by questions of: "Why not earlier?" Announcement of a target to reduce crime by 20% and achieving 18% is seen as more of a failure than no target and no improvement.'

He was scathing about the involvement of the media. 'We endure a constant stream of denigration from the middle-market tabloids, and the coverage of the public sector by our so-called broadsheets is often little better than Rita Skeeter's coverage of Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic for the Daily Prophet.'

But, despite the endemic hostility to the public sector, Turnbull was optimistic that the situation could be improved. He attributed this to public servants' 'sense of mission' and the government's new-found enthusiasm for local input into services.

Of course, there was also a role for the Cabinet Office's Charter Mark scheme and PF's awards. 'The Public Servants of the Year Awards play a vital role in sustaining our motivation and pride,' Turnbull told the audience.


Outstanding Public Servant of the Year and Frontline Worker Award – Badrul Hussain, special projects officer, rapid response team, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Award for Leadership – David Henshaw, chief executive, Liverpool City Council

Award for Innovation – Sue Trafford, e-business suite manager, Liverpool City Council

Turn-round Manager Award – David Allonby, environmental maintenance manager, Hyndburn Borough Council

Social Inclusion Award – Nirmala Sharma, senior development officer, London Borough of Camden

Award for Progress through Partnership – John Spencer, senior collision investigator/casualty reduction officer, Northamptonshire Police

Non-Executive's Award – David Dombey, chair, Sutton Seniors Forum


Outstanding Public Service Team of the Year and Uniformed Services Award – HMP Dartmoor Resettlement Assessment Centre

Central Government Award – Sudan Unit, Department for International Development/Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Local Government Award – Bromley Trading Standards team, London Borough of Bromley

Housing Award – Housing Rents Service, Denbighshire County Council

Education Award – Education Partnership Team, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Health Award – Community Brain Injury Team, Down Lisburn Health and Social Services Trust


Did you enjoy this article?