Nick Bailey, the police officer who needed intensive care following the poisoning this week in Salisbury of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, has been described as well-liked, brave and dedicated.
Sergei Skripal: former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent, say police
Wiltshire’s temporary chief constable, Kier Pritchard, visited Bailey at Salisbury district hospital on Thursday and reported that the detective sergeant was sitting up in bed, but that the long-term prognosis was unclear.
“I met Nick and his wife at the hospital in the intensive care unit,” Pritchard said. “I’ve known Nick for many years, he’s a great character, he’s a huge presence in Wiltshire police – well liked, well loved, a massively dedicated officer.
“He’s clearly receiving high-specialist treatment. He’s well, he’s sat up. He is not the Nick that I know but of course he’s receiving a high level of treatment. He’s in the safe hands of the medical professionals working in Salisbury district.
“Of course he’s very anxious, he’s very concerned. He did his very best on that night. All of our staff that attended the incident in Salisbury in the Maltings performed the role that police officers and police staff do every day up and down the country. With limited information, they responded to try and protect people and safeguard people who we knew were ill. I’m massively proud of what Nick did and all of my staff on that night, they did a first-class job. We’re rooting for Nick. We all miss him.”
The prime minister, Theresa May, paid tribute to the emergency services in Salisbury who had reacted to the initial call on Sunday “and those who continue to respond to this appalling and reckless attack”.
She added: “In particular, my thoughts are with DS Nick Bailey, one of the first responders, who remains in a serious condition in hospital. We are all thinking of him, his family, friends and colleagues, and the two other victims, at what is an incredibly difficult time.
“The events of Sunday are a stark reminder, if ever one was needed, of the dangerous situations our emergency services face and the dedication and courage they display every day in order to keep us safe.”
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Messages of support for Bailey arrived from members of the public and police forces across the country. Colleagues expressed devastation at what happened to him.
Bailey joined the force in 2002 and he knew Salisbury city centre well, having worked there as a member of the neighbourhood policing team. He became a detective constable and single-handedly worked on the case of Arthur Bonner, who sexually assaulted multiple victims over four decades between the early 1970s and 2014.
After Bonner was jailed for 14 years, Bailey was awarded a chief constable’s certificate of excellence. Bailey said of the Bonner case: “You live and breathe that type of investigation for a long time. It’s on your mind constantly, and it’s very difficult to switch off, it’s such a big thing. It affects so many people in such a significant way.”
Bailey was transferred to Wiltshire’s force headquarters in Devizes before being moved back to Salisbury CID, where he worked on thefts, robberies and assaults.
Meanwhile, new images have emerged showing how little protection the first officers on the scene of the poisoning at the Maltings had; clearly unaware of the severity of the situation officers did not have specialist protective clothing and members of the public can be seen strolling nearby.
The photographs were taken by Thom Belk, who had been at a nearby indoor football game when he heard sirens and an air ambulance.
Belk, of Salisbury, said: “I went to see what was going on just as the air ambulance was taking off and the land ambulance was leaving. These pictures are the immediate aftermath of what had happened – I don’t think anyone there really had a clue what was going on. The police officer is very close to the area where [Skripal and his daughter] were taken ill.”