Tribute paid to Essex and Suffolk police press officer Nishan Wijeratne, 38
- Credit: Archant
Tribute has been paid to a police press officer who has died aged 38.
Nishan Wijeratne died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on Tuesday November 11 after complications arising from a kidney transplant.
Nish, as he was known to friends, began his career with the police as an assistant press officer with Essex Police in 2000.
He progressed through the ranks, and joined Suffolk Constabulary on a year-long secondment as the force’s press office manager before returning to Essex in 2012.
Nish came back to Suffolk as a senior press officer in a permanent promotion, beginning this August.
During his time at Essex he managed the media response for many high profile cases including the murder of Sandra Gant in Clacton 2003, the murder of Jay Whiston in Colchester in 2012 and Operation Dartford, a child sexual exploitation investigation in Southend this year.
Nish continued to be involved in Operation Dartford despite moving to Suffolk Police and such was his dedication he was even updating the media from his hospital bed when the jury went out for their deliberations.
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While in Suffolk, he oversaw the media response to the murders of two men on a travellers’ site in Beck Row in March 2011 and this year lead on communications for the first Ipswich vs Norwich football match for several years.
A joint statement from Essex Police and Suffolk Constabulary added: “No job was ever too big or too small and Nishan tackled everything with sensitivity, compassion, understanding and professionalism.
“He was many officers’ ‘go to’ press officer and equally had made many friends across the Essex and Suffolk media, which made for a positive working relationship.
“As well as offering his support and guidance following major crimes or incidents, Nishan was also committed to helping both forces in their efforts in crime prevention and education.
“In Essex, he organised campaigns educating youngsters about the dangers of imitation firearms and supported the Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) with their education of children about the dangers of the internet.
“In Suffolk, he played a key role in many campaigns, ranging from road safety to crime prevention, but had also embraced his new senior role with typical enthusiasm, supporting and developing junior members of staff in the press office team.
“Never one to shy away from a task Nishan often carried out radio interviews when no one else was available, normally updating the public about road closures following serious collisions.
“He was a real advocate for the police service, enjoyed nothing more than accompanying officers on a night shift patrol, and was a credit to Essex Police and Suffolk Constabulary.
“Although he had recently moved on he leaves behind a huge hole in the Essex Police press office as well as a lasting legacy of a can-do attitude, tremendous teamwork, as well as an unforgettable and just occasional outrageous sense of humour.
“The same is true in Suffolk, where Nish made so many friends among officers and staff, who will remember him fondly for his professionalism, sound judgement and, importantly, enthusiasm and laughter.”
Nishan’s funeral will take place at 1.30pm on Wednesday November 26 at St Nicolas Church, Witham, the town where he lived.
His family have requested no flowers, but donations can be made online to Kidney Research UK.