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Nottinghamshire Police’s Detective Constable Paula Wilson recognised for her work to protect children

A ‘special police officer’ has been recognised for her outstanding work in protecting children from abuse and neglect.

Detective Constable Paula Wilson has dedicated the last 18-and-a-half years of her career to investigating the most serious sexual and physical assaults committed against children.

During that time, she has played a central role in locking up dozens of abusers — several of them for more than 20 years.

Detective Constable Paula Wilson.
Detective Constable Paula Wilson.

What she says gives her the greatest sense of satisfaction, however, has always been the protection of vulnerable young people from further harm.

Before receiving a life-time achievement honour at Nottinghamshire Police’s annual Force Awards last week, she said: “This kind of work can be very challenging — particularly when officers have children of their own — but it’s also a job that needs to be done and one that I’ve always enjoyed doing.

“Our main concern is always the child and how we can protect them from further harm, but we are also dealing with very serious allegations — often from within families — that need to be fully investigated.”

A key part of the investigative process is to get an evidential account of what has happened on camera that can later be used in court.

DC Wilson, who now works in a multi-agency team protecting children from harm, is considered by her peers to truly excel in this process.

She added: “Children all have their own personalities and obviously speaking to a teenager is a very different to speaking to a much younger child, so you have to adapt your approach and the language you use.

“Ultimately, you’re expecting them to tell you the most personal information and that can be very difficult. But from my experience most of the children we work with do open up and do give us very good evidential accounts that can then lead to convictions.

“That is very satisfying because I know how important it is for victims who are then able to move on with their lives.”

Detective Inspector Stuart Barson, who nominated DC Wilson for the award, said: “This area of policing is extremely difficult and it can be very tough on the people who do it. Nobody wants to think about the sexual abuse of children, but unfortunately it does happen, and it needs to be investigated.

“To do that — and to thrive in that environment — I think you need to be a truly special person and a special police officer.

“Paula is both of those things and has dedicated such a long time of her career to protecting the most vulnerable people from harm.

“She has also played a large role in helping to develop the next generation of investigators who now carry on this work.

“But above all when we’re talking about Paula’s contribution, we need to think about the children she has helped over the years — because I know there will be many young adults out there now whose live have been made so much better because of the care and professionalism Paula has shown to them during her career.”

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