TRIBUTES have been paid to the police officer who was poisoned in the Salisbury Novichok attack and almost died following his decision to leave the Wiltshire force.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey was among the officers who responded to the poisonings in 2018 and fell ill after coming into contact with the nerve agent.

In a statement on social media he said: “After 18 years in the police force I’ve had to admit defeat and accept that I can no longer do the job.

“I wanted to be a Police Officer since I was a teenager, I couldn’t envisage doing anything else, which is why this makes me so sad. Like most Police Officers, I’ve experienced my fair share of trauma, violence, upset, injury and grief.

“We deal with it, take it on the chin and keep going because that’s our job. But we’re still human and the impact this has shouldn’t be underestimated.

“The events in Salisbury in March 2018 took so much from me and although I’ve tried so hard to make it work, I know that I won’t find peace whilst remaining in that environment.

“Policing will remain in my heart and I feel honoured and privileged to have been part of Wiltshire Police. I am so grateful for the opportunities that they’ve given me, and the support that I’ve received.

“We’ve all seen that the ‘Policing family’ very much exists and in the current climate it’s more important now than ever.

“To all those in the Police, I salute you. Keep fighting the good fight, I’m just sorry that I’ve made the thin blue line that little bit thinner.

“Be proud of what you do and know that you make a positive difference to so many people. But for me, it’s time for a change.”

Wiltshire Chief Constable Kier Pritchard and Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson both paid tribute to Det Sgt Bailey following his retirement announcement.

The Chief Constable said: “I have known and respected Nick for many years as a dedicated colleague and detective.

“Understandably, Nick and his family’s lives was turned upside down following the events in Salisbury back in March 2018.

“Nick was one of the first officers involved in this incident when he was exposed to the lethal nerve agent Novichok.

“These shocking and unprecedented events changed his life and his family’s lives significantly.

“It is impossible for any of us to fully understand the impact this event has had on Nick and his family, and the sacrifices they made in trying to come to terms with the situation.

“Nick’s commitment to the service has never been questioned and this was further illustrated by him making several attempts to return to full duties.

“He represents the dedication and determination that all of us want to see in police officers across the country. Day in and day out, officers put themselves directly into harm’s way in order to help and protect others.

“Nick should be incredibly proud of all that he has achieved and will always be considered to be part of the Wiltshire Police family.

“I am sure that as one chapter closes, another opportunity will open up for Nick.

“He has been an outstanding officer and I wish him and his family the greatest success for their future.”

Mr Macpherson said: “I would firstly like to thank Nick for his service and dedication to Wiltshire Police.

“Nick found himself at the centre of an international, criminal incident which not only affected his health but I am certain changed the course

of his family’s lives too.

“The events in Salisbury and Amesbury back in 2018 remain unprecedented and Nick, himself, has found himself in a situation that no other police officer in this country has been through.

“I know that the Force has offered as much welfare support to Nick as possible but I hope today brings Nick and his family some sense of closure and allows them to start to look to the future.

“Each day, our officers, staff and volunteers do all they can to best protect the public and Nick symbolises that dedication and sense of public duty.

“I wish Nick and his family the very best in the future.”

Mark Andrews, chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “It’s really sad for me personally to hear of Nick’s leaving. Nick was the victim of a terrible crime, he is a personal friend of mine and a valued colleague of ours at Wiltshire Police Federation. I know he’ll be missed by every police officer who he has come into contact with through his service. 

“What happened to Nick is unprecedented and I hope will never happen to any other police officer or any other British citizen again. I can only hope that one day the offenders will be brought to justice and Nick will be able to rest knowing that.”

Mark added: “I’ve always been impressed with how Nick and his family managed what they went through. I know both physically and mentally it’s been tough, but Nick showed the real resilience of an excellent police officer by continuing to fight.

“He showed this in the money he has raised for Salisbury Hospital doing his half marathons and the support he has given to his colleagues who also went through this incident. I’m very proud of how he’s behaved, I’m very proud of him and I’m very proud of how his family have got him through. We wish Nick and his family all the very best.”