Wiltshire police sergeant Nick Bailey who is in a serious condition in hospital after a nerve gas attack has been involved in investigating a number of serious crimes in the Marlborough area.

DS Bailey was hospitalised earlier this week after coming into contact with a nerve agent while treating Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

He was one of the first at the scene when the pair were found slumped on a park bench in The Maltings, Salisbury, on Sunday.

Yesterday Home Secretary Amber Rudd revealed that DS Bailey, of Salisbury CID, was "talking and engaging".

She said: "I'm more optimistic for him, but it's too early to say. This is a nerve agent.

"You know, we are still treating it as very serious."

DS Bailey led an investigation last year when masked men tied up, taunted and brandished machetes at the owners of an Ogbourne St George home before stealing many prized possessions.

Temporary Chief Constable Kier Pritchard yesterday visited DS Bailey in Salisbury District Hospital.

He said DS Bailey was "conscious, talking and engaging with people", but that he remains in a "serious, but stable, condition".

He said he was "deeply relieved to have visited him and spoken with him in person".

“We have all been deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support from staff, public and around the country – we are very grateful for this.

“I would like to reassure you all that Nick is receiving medical intervention and care from highly specialist medical practitioners experienced in these matters.

“Nick is a hugely popular member of staff and all our thoughts are with him.

“The welfare of my officers and staff is of paramount importance to me."

CC Pritchard said officers on the scene displayed "selfless commitment to their jobs as they tried their very best to help these two people, unaware of what they were dealing with".

He added: “At the time of the first emergency calls no one knew what developments this investigation would take and I would like to commend all officers, staff and volunteers who respond to emergency calls, every day, never knowing what is around the corner as they keep our communities safe."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said the way police have responded to the "unprecedented incident" in a "commendable" manner.

And he said his "thoughts and prayers continue to be with Nick", adding: "It shines a light on the fact that day in and day out our officers, staff and volunteers put themselves in harm’s way in order to keep the public safe.

"In the past few days they have worked an incredible amount of hours and together with our partners we are committed to ensuring the safety of the public in Salisbury and Wiltshire.”

Messages of support for DS Bailey have poured in from members of the public and police forces across the country.

DS Bailey was recognised for outstanding police work in December 2016, after he put a Salisbury rapist behind bars for more than 14 years.

He worked tirelessly for two years to build a case against Arthur Bonner, who sexually assaulted multiple victims over four decades between the early 1970s and 2014.

The then Chief Constable Mike Veale praised his dedication, outstanding professionalism, and diligent hard work, as well as the sensitive way he dealt with victims and families who were deeply affected by what had happened.