Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has expressed her delight following the news that a former officer of the force has been awarded the Queen’s Policing Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Following the announcement that John Williams, who retired earlier this year after completing 30 years’ service with Merseyside Police, has been given the award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, said, “I am so proud of John and delighted that he has been recognised for the fantastic work he did for the force and the communities of Merseyside.
“John was a very popular officer and his approachable and supportive style very much encouraged others to see him as a mentor and coach.
“As a temporary Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) he was responsible for Protecting Vulnerable People (PVP) and represented the police on Children and Adults Safeguarding Boards in two local authority areas. His responsibilities also included the investigation of Domestic Abuse, Child Abuse, Adult Abuse and Hate Crime.
“Hate Crime is an arena in which he had previously contributed when the Sigma teams were first established following the murder of Anthony Walker and he provided valuable input in reviewing the structure and the remit of the Sigma teams. He was also the Area Senior Investigating Officer and responsible for leading the investigation into homicides including the horrific murder of Rachel Evans, who died as a result of countless stab wounds inflicted by her partner. At the point of handover to the Homicide Support Unit, his policy files and actions records were noted as excellent.
“On promotion to DCI he was posted to the Major Crime Unit where he was responsible for the investigation of complex cases. He took immediate responsibility for six ongoing category B murder investigations, one of which was progressing through the courts system. He supported his team through the COVID restrictions implementing a range of strategies to protect his staff and further the investigation whilst remaining present throughout despite his own vulnerable status.
“He organised for the chair of the Black Asian Minority Ethnic staff network (now known as FORE which stands for Focus On Race and Ethnicity), to have a standing invite to Covid Gold strategic meetings as he realised the response to Covid would need to take account of disproportionality amongst BAME Communities. He ensured the force risk assessed all vulnerable Black Asian Minority Ethnic officers over the age of 55 meaning they were supported and assisted.
“John drew on his experience of investigating hate crime and helped to arrange a successful Merseyside Police conference entitled ‘Surviving Hate Crime’. He has demonstrated leadership and inclusivity and acted as a role model and educator by sharing personal stories of his lived experience empowering others to have a voice and to have confidence to share their own experiences. This has encouraged conversations around diversity and promoted the importance of both discussion and listening in this area.
“Alongside this he was an active member of Merseyside Police Black Asian Minority Ethnic Staff Network (now known as FORE which stands for Focus On Race and Ethnicity), which he went on to chair, reinvigorating the network to include many new members.
“All of Merseyside should be proud of John’s achievements and I am sure that those who have worked with and for him, who have benefitted from his experience and learning over the last 30 years, would want to join me in congratulating him.
On receiving the award, John Williams, who now works for the Anthony Walker Foundation, said, “I look back at my policing career with great fondness, as I have worked with some great people, collaborated with some excellent partners and supported victims and families at their lowest ebb.
“I always felt a tinge of sadness, at the end of each successful murder investigation, because I knew that I could never give the family of the deceased what they would have really wanted, which is to have their loved one back with them.
“Ironically, both my parents passed away before I retired, which is a pain I feel every day. Dad passed three months after I was promoted to Detective Inspector and my beloved mom passed away in January 2021, exactly five days prior to my due retirement date.
“However, I still have the opportunity to spend valuable time and celebrate my achievements with my beloved wife Elaine, and my two daughters Melissa and Jessica, who were instrumental in me being able to serve the communities of Merseyside.
“I would also give special recognition to retired Chief Superintendents Timothy Keelan and Rowley Moore, who I met soon after the ‘Secret Policeman’ investigation into racism and sexism at the Bruges Police Training Centre.
“Both men played a significant role in my professional and personal life, and they were instrumental in me overcoming obstacles and doubts.
“Looking back over my career, I feel proud that I was able introduce Sigma hate crime units to the force; change the way we collaborated with Children’s Social Services across the Merseyside area; improve the way in which we dealt with Sudden Unexplained Deaths in children and adults as well as trying to engender a more diverse workforce as the vice -chair and then the chair of Merseyside Black Asian Minority Ethnic staff network.
“Whilst I may have faced challenges at various intervals, I still have fond memories of my time as an officer with Merseyside Police, and I am thankful to all who went the extra mile to assist my development.
“I would also like to give a special mention to HM Coroner Andre Rebello, who was always at hand to give me advice and Mr Paul Johnson Home Office Pathologist for the many discussions over the years.
“I am eternally grateful to Chief Constable Kennedy and the wider Chief Officer team for recommending me for this accolade.”
He added, “After a career spanning 30 years and one month, I consider myself privileged to have served the people of Merseyside, and I only have few regrets, which include not being able to give the family of Adam Ellison the justice they deserved and because the force is not as reflective of the community as I would have hoped.
“Just under a year ago, I started a new journey at the Anthony Walker Foundation, as the Chief Operating Officer & Hate Crime Lead. This is a new role and it couldn’t be any further from my role as an officer, but I am glad to work closely with communities, and such partners as Merseyside Police Crime Commissioner and Merseyside Police Chief Officers.
“I hope to use my new role to work with and challenge those I have left in Merseyside Police, as well as forging a close working relationship with people from underrepresented communities. I count myself as blessed to be working alongside Gee Walker, her family, the wider board, and colleagues at the foundation.”