Detective Sergeant Mark Naylor, from Cheshire Police, won the Inspiration in Policing Award at the 25th National Police Bravery Awards.
The 2020 awards ceremony, hosted by the Police Federation, had been postponed twice but was finally hosted on the evening of 12 October.
DS Naylor’s award was presented by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel at the ceremony held in London.
The award recognised DS Naylor’s inspirational method for helping officers to better understand what it is like to be a survivor or victim of sexual abuse.
Since 2018, DS Naylor has travelled around the country, giving presentations focusing on shame, sexual abuse and mental health problems encountered as a result. The aim was to bring investigators a chance to see things from a victim’s point of view and try to reduce some of the stigma around talking about these topics.
His presentation begins with a moving audio-recorded witness testimony of the victim’s recollection of the excitement brought by holidays spent in Canada with extended family.
However, the account then recollects the point when a family member begins to prey on the victim by sexually abusing him when aged eight and then again at 10.
The audio describes how suppressing the memory takes its toll on the victim, affecting their self-image, confidence and trust and ultimately leads to a breakdown when a younger sibling is given the same opportunity to visit Canada.
As the presentation concludes, DS Naylor reveals that he is the victim and the experiences are his own.
DS Naylor then opens the floor to a ‘no holds barred’ question and answer session about the abuse, the effects on him, the stress of making a disclosure, the experience of court as a victim and his battle to build his own relationships as a survivor.
DS Naylor continues to do this to highlight an important issue in society and to make positive change for the benefit of policing.
Detective Chief Superintendent Denise Worth from the Constabulary’s Public Protection Directorate said: “Congratulations to DS Naylor, for his incredible work and for sharing his story to help so many others. Victims are at the heart of our policing here in Cheshire and DS Naylor has gone above and beyond to help officers here and across the country better understand victims and survivors with his incredibly brave and moving presentations. DS Naylor continues to support us in understanding those who come to us in their greatest time of need and we’re incredibly proud of his work and dedication in this.
“In 2018 we also recognised DS Naylor’s outstanding contribution to policing and victims and survivors of abuse at our very own ACE (Achieving Cheshire Excellence) Awards. DS Naylor truly deserves all the recognition he gets for his selfless commitment to victims and survivors, and policing.”
DS Naylor said: “My intention is to move the victim agenda forward by being open about the effects of abuse and in doing so, help officers to get a better understanding so that the victims gets better support and empathy when they come to us for help. I feel incredibly humbled by receiving this award and hope that I can carry on with this work.
“I also want to continue to help colleagues understand the importance of speaking openly about difficult and taboo subjects such as abuse and mental ill-health. Being a victim can be an incredibly lonely place to be and I believe that the more we talk about shameful things, the less power they hold over us.
“I would like to give special thanks to our Federation representative DC Jamie Thompson for looking after me and the other nominees from Cheshire so well. Thanks also to PFEW for organising such an amazing event.”