29/11/2016

Officers Awarded For Their Dedication Whilst Investigating Historic Sex Abuse

Officers have been awarded a Chief Constable’s Commendation for their dedication to investigating multiple reports of sexual abuse.

In 2014 a number of vulnerable victims reported to police about historic sexual abuse. An investigation was launched under the name Operation Seahorse. Police Staff Investigator Ann Atkinson, Acting Sergeant Gill Parkes, Evidential Review Officer Paul Richardson, Inspector Simon Walker, Detective Constable Helen Walker, Police Staff Investigator David Wilkinson and Detective Sergeant Amanda Badger were assigned with the task to investigate.

The investigation resulted in identifying multiple victims across the UK that had been subjected to decades of abuse.
The offender manipulated and preyed upon his victims and used his position of trust to commit repeated serious sexual offences. The impact of these crimes have left a devastating trail of emotional damage and has been life changing to all. This served to form victim mistrust and a reluctance to engage with the criminal justice system, despite recognition of the risks over the years.  

Following fresh disclosure, the team worked tirelessly over 18 months to engage and support these vulnerable victims throughout the investigation including the traumatic court process. This presented significant challenges, however the demonstration of resilience, commitment and high degree of sensitivity and empathy resulted in the victims remaining resolute in seeking justice.

The investigation also required detailed and painstaking investigative work to build a case and then to assess unprecedented volumes of evidence and documents, working to very tight timescales. The team consistently demonstrated great professionalism and commitment to complete the work required, even to the point of finalising some enquiries as the trial started. The outcome of such hard work resulted in over 40 charges of serious sexual offences and ultimately in 2016 the offender received life imprisonment which reflected the gravity of the levels of offending in this case.

It also demonstrated the team's dedication to keeping communities safe and achieving justice for vulnerable victims. In recognition of their fairness, respectfulness and objectivity throughout Operation Seahorse, showing determination to achieve justice for vulnerable victims, a Chief Constable’s Commendation is awarded to the whole team.

Photo Caption: Evidential Review Officer Paul Richardson, Detective Constable Helen Walker, Police Staff Investigator Ann Atkinson, Chief Constable Iain Spittal, Inspector Gill Parkes, Inspector Simon Walker and Police Staff Investigator David Wilkinson.