MPS homicide detective wins prestigious award

A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) homicide detective who has been involved in a number of high-profile cases has won a prestigious national award.

Feb 4, 2021
By Tony Thompson
DCI Simon Harding and DAC Stuart Cundy

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, based out of Putney, was named Senior Investigating Officer of the year by the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) Homicide Working Group, which recognises those who excel in their field of homicide and major crime investigations across UK police forces in their annual awards.

NPCC Homicide Working Group chair, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy, presented Det Chief Insp Harding with his award at New Scotland Yard, in recognition of his professionalism and leadership as a senior investigating officer (SIO) leading complex homicide investigations of exceptional quality.

In a policing career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Det Chief Insp Harding has served in various areas, including borough roles; a specialist cold case rape team; in the Counter-Terrorism Command; and at three different ranks within homicide investigation teams.

As SIO he has led successful investigations into a number of significant and high-profile cases. He was the UK counter-terrorism SIO for the Tunisian museum terrorist attack in 2015 where 22 people were killed, and three months later supported the SIO for the Tunisian beach terrorist attack at Sousse where 30 British citizens were killed. The scale and impact of these terrorist murders was described as something that shocked the public, and tragically has a lasting impact on the bereaved families.

In 2017, Det Chief Insp Harding joined the MPS’s murder team as an SIO and has led or overseen more than 80 murder investigations, making him one of the most experienced SIOs in the country. This includes Operation Needingworth, the double murders of Noel and Marie Brown in 2017, where familial DNA was used to identify the suspect – he presented the learning at the national SIO annual conference in 2019.

In 2019, he was the SIO for Operation Ridleypark, when two partially decomposed females were found in a chest freezer. He and his team showed great tenacity to identify the victims, and their comprehensive investigation led to the conviction of Zahid Younis who received a 38 year sentence, even though no cause of death could be established. The investigation was commended by the trial judge.

In June 2020, Det Chief Insp Harding took responsibility for Operation Saxonstreet, the stranger murders of sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman in Fryent Park, Wembley, an incredibly challenging case, with significant complexities and pressures which is currently awaiting trial.

On receiving his award, Det Chief Insp Harding said: “I am truly honoured and humbled to have received this award. I would like to thank those in the MPS who nominated me and the NPCC Homicide Working Group who voted for me. To be an SIO in the Met is an honour in itself, but to be a Homicide SIO is the pinnacle, and I cherish every minute.

“To be recognised for my work is great, but this can only be achieved when you have a fantastic team behind you. I am so fortunate to have a hard working team of detectives and police staff who give everything to every investigation, all for the benefit of the families who have lost their loved ones.”

Mr Cundy concluded: “Simon, you’re a leader who has high standards, and an SIO who shows tireless determination, drawing on your own knowledge and experiences in your investigations. You are also an SIO who is always seeking to learn, willing to share your own learning and support and develop others, including other SIOs. As a passionate leader, you’re keen for your team to succeed and have never lost sight of the effect that murder investigations can have on staff.

“As the chair of the NPCC Homicide Working Group I’m proud that you are such a dedicated, professional and compassionate senior investigating officer who has exemplified what public service means, and in particular your compassion and support for bereaved families. Congratulations on the award, and well done”.

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