A surprise award from the High Sheriff was presented to the chair of Hertfordshire Black and Asian Police Association (HBAPA) on Tuesday.

Detective Inspector Tony Fontenelle was bestowed with a High Sheriff Personal Award by Liz Green for his work supporting association members and the constabulary’s work towards the national Police Race Action Plan.

HBAPA currently has 120 members and its annual conference in October had the event’s highest attendance ever. The High Sheriff was a guest at the conference and heard from a variety of speakers, including HBAPA members and Tony himself, who has been association chair for three years.

Presenting him with the award, the High Sheriff said: “As chair of HBAPA, Tony supports and mentors [the] 120 officers and staff from minority backgrounds to ensure they feel they belong in the constabulary.

“Tony has also been pivotal in supporting the recruitment and retention of officers from minority ethnic backgrounds, and he supports the constabulary by reviewing feedback from national and local surveys and implementing opportunities such as mentoring and secondment.

“Tony is passionate about addressing racial disparity and has been instrumental in the support he has given to the organisation in its drive to meet the Police Race Action Plan.”

He has also reverse-mentored senior officers and supports the force's Race Inclusion Board, which includes members of the Black community in Hertfordshire and provides advice and scrutiny around the action plan, including emotive issues such as police use of stop and search.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is committed to being an anti-racist police service, meaning it actively works to challenge racial disparities and build trust and confidence in policing within the Black community, which has been historically lower than other ethnic groups.

DI Fontenelle, who currently works in the Operational Intelligence Team, said: “It was a total surprise and I am truly honoured to have received this award from the High Sheriff. 

“To be acknowledged from someone so high standing in Hertfordshire is truly humbling. This award is not just for myself but those that have supported me both within Hertfordshire Constabulary and HBAPA.”

The event was the 29th Annual Hertfordshire High Sheriff Awards.