Senior Essex Police detective recognised in King’s first New Year Honours for his work supporting victims of serious sexual crimes
Crime / Sat 31st Dec 2022 at 11:16am
A SENIOR Essex Police detective has been recognised by the King for his services to policing and for supporting victims of crime.
Detective Superintendent Neil Pudney was awarded the King’s Police Medal (KPM) in the New Year Honours list.
As head of Investigations in our Crime and Public Protection Command for the past three years, Neil has worked relentlessly to achieve justice for victims of some of the most serious crimes, such as rape and sexual assault.
During this time, the number of solved rape offences has risen by more than 80% and the number of charges secured for rape and serious sexual offences is now significantly higher than the national average.
Neil, who joined Essex Police in 1994 having graduated from Swansea University, confessed he was hugely surprised when told the good news.
“It was almost a sense of shock and disbelief when I first received the call in November to tell me I would be receiving this award. I was advised that I could not tell anyone and it has been really difficult to keep such a secret from my family. I have arranged to take them all out for a meal on New Year’s Eve where I plan to break the good news to them.
“I feel really humbled and privileged to have been put forward for such an honour. Throughout my career it has been an absolute privilege to work for Essex Police and to be able to make a difference to victims and our communities. As a Detective Superintendent I have the ability to influence widely across partnerships and at strategic and operational levels. I feel blessed and very fortunate. I will look back on my career with immense pride.
“I was inspired to join Essex Police due to the great support my family received from the police when they themselves were victims of serious crimes. From the outset, I was always keen to pursue a career as a detective but I have had a number of different roles, all of which have provided different challenges that I’ve enjoyed.
“Above all, I love to connect with the public and with partner agencies to deliver the very best service and outcomes for victims. The specialist teams in Crime and Public Protection Command work incredibly well with the CPS, local authorities and victim support agencies, which is crucial. It really is a team effort and we cannot achieve such outcomes without forging a strong partnership approach.
“The better support victims receive, building trust and confidence with them, the more likely victims will engage and support criminal prosecutions. That’s the real driver for me. We can rarely prosecute without a victim’s support and the more offenders we bring to justice, the more we can keep people safe by preventing further offences from happening or the likelihood of people becoming repeat victims.
“Building trust and confidence with victims can help them find the courage to remove themselves from abusive relationships.”
Neil encourages detectives to contact the Crown Prosecution Service for advice early on so we can improve the quality and speed of an investigation. Involving lawyers early in an investigation enables joint action plans to be agreed, setting clear direction and creating a real prosecution team ethos. This means a better service for victims and our investigative timeliness for rape and serious sexual offences is the best in the Eastern region.
Neil has set up a force Victim Feedback Panel where detectives and staff from victim support agencies – such as Victim Support, independent sexual violence advisors and independent domestic violence advisors – can hear directly from victims on their experience and how their actions and words are perceived and can affect someone experiencing trauma.
“I wanted to give victims a voice and the Victim Feedback Panel provides a platform for this,” says Neil.
“It’s really important that we work not only with partner agencies but also victims to keep improving our services. The panel is designed to be an inclusive event with live victim testimonies, case studies and themes so victims can tell us how they found the investigative process, what they thought of the support they received and what we can do better.
“It gives our officers, staff and partners the opportunity to pause and reflect, whilst looking at how we adopt any organisational learning which is identified.”
Not content with all of this, Neil is also working with commissioned victim support services to improve the availability and type of support for victims of rape and other sexual offences.
There has been significant investment in Crime and Public Protection and he points to the work of the Quest team which was formed in 2019 to investigate non-recent child sexual abuse cases, where the victim is now an adult and their abuser was either an adult family member or in a position of responsibility over them.
As a result of the determination of those specialist detectives and professional support services, abusers who thought they had got away with their offending years before have been convicted of rape and sexual assault and the team is being expanded.
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington says: “I’m delighted that Neil’s exceptional work in supporting victims and their rights has been recognised.
“Throughout his 28-year career, both as a detective and in local and community policing roles, Neil has placed victims at the heart of everything he does.
“And the work for which he has received this honour reflects the fact that we never stop striving to obtain justice for victims and to put their abusers in front of the courts.
“Neil’s dedication and enthusiasm to ensure we are highly effective in investigating crime to do the best we can for the victims we serve is infectious. He has worked hard with the CPS to speed up prosecutions and get justice for the most vulnerable victims more quickly.
“His extensive experience of leading across multi agency partnerships over the years also means he’s been able to ensure victims can get more support when they are at their lowest point.”
Neil spent his first six years as a uniformed patrol officer and then as a neighbourhood police officer before joining a tactical proactive team targeting drug supply and acquisitive crime, where much of his work involved working with the community and partners.
He moved over to CID in 2002, rising to the rank of detective chief inspector in 2016 covering the south of the county before spending two years as Southend District Commander. He was promoted to his current role in January 2020.
Neil is the latest Essex Police officer to be recognised in the New Year and Birthday Honours lists with previous Essex Police recipients of the Queen’s Police Medal including Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington last year and former Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh in 2018.
A record five officers were awarded QPMs in the 2021 New Year Honours list, including Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, Detective Inspector Michelle Stoten and retired Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, who were recognised for their work during the biggest investigation Essex Police has undertaken; the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people who suffocated in an articulated lorry trailer in October 2019.