National Crime Agency officers working in the fields of child sexual abuse and missing people have been officially recognised in this year’s New Year Honours.

Those honoured include Kate Richardson, who is made an OBE  for a career dedicated to supporting vulnerable children in the UK and abroad; Charles Yates, NCA threat lead for child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE) is also made an OBE and Dr Naomi Eales, who has been made an MBE for services to law enforcement;

Director General Lynne Owens spoke of her pride at seeing the trio honoured for their work at the NCA and beyond.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted that the work of Kate, Charles and Naomi has been recognised in this way.  In their individual fields they have all worked tirelessly to protect the public and we send our warmest congratulations to them all.”

Kate Richardson

Social worker Kate Richardson has worked for the NCA since October 2015 and managed the Disruption and Safeguarding team for Operation Stovewood – the NCA’s investigation into non-familial child sexual abuse and exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.  It has engaged with more than 300 victims, resulting in 20 convictions to date.

Kate Richardson OBE

Before she joined the Stovewood Team, disruption and safeguarding followed established methods. Kate was a catalyst for change. She challenged the norms, introduced more innovative thinking and created a culture of pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Thanks to Kate’s work, the safeguarding of children is at the centre of decision making. She also helped to improve the flow of information and working practices across the NCA and the wider child protection community, both nationally and internationally.

Kate said: “I was really shocked and surprised when I received the letter and feel incredibly honoured to get this award. I have been extremely lucky to work in jobs and roles that I am very passionate about, so to be recognised for that work is just amazing.”

Lynne Owens said: “Kate has dedicated her career to the protection of children. Most recently she has built and developed the victim support team for Operation Stovewood . The challenges of ensuring the right level of support for victims in these circumstances cannot be underestimated and it is testament to her that so many cases have now been successfully convicted at court with brave victims remaining engaged.”

Charles Yates

Charles Yates, CSAE threat lead, has worked in law enforcement for 32 years.

In his current role Charles has been instrumental in developing and implementing a significantly enhanced whole-system response to tackling the threat.

Charles Yates OBE

The amount of child sexual abuse material online has grown exponentially over the last decade - in 2018 there were 113,948 UK-related referrals, a 997% increase since 2012 – putting intense pressure on law enforcement to safeguard vulnerable children.

From an early stage, Charles recognised the scale and gravity of this emerging threat, and the importance of boosting the way intelligence is shared across law enforcement agencies.

He secured funding for a new national hub to tackle CSAE, which works closely with national policing, including eight new specialist teams targeting the worst offenders.

This has significantly strengthened the UK’s victim identification, intelligence, investigations and child protection capabilities, including embedding child social workers with operational teams to ensure child welfare is uppermost in operations. And it led to the identification and arrest of offenders responsible for committing the most horrific contact abuse.

Charles was also pivotal in delivering a step change in the UK’s engagement with internet companies, developing key asks of these tech giants, placing them at the forefront of the UK’s response to reducing the online availability of child sexual abuse material.

Charles has been made an OBE for his services to law enforcement, and prevention of CSAE.

He said of the recognition: “I was surprised and humbled to receive the letter about the award, this is something that happens to other people!

“I have been fortunate to work with some great teams and individuals over my career. In my most recent role, it has been a privilege to work with inspirational and committed officers who tackle the CSAE threat and safeguard some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.”

Lynne Owens said: “Charles has had many successes in his career but his most recent work on the challenges presented by the growing threat of child abuse and exploitation is simply extraordinary. As the threat has grown he has been at the forefront of developing and challenging the whole response, from policing, Government parties and others. Children are better protected as a result of his work.”

Dr Naomi Eales

Dr Naomi Eales has worked in the NCA Missing Persons Unit since 2008 and created iFIND – an analysis document which enhances search planning for vulnerable missing people.

Naomi Eales MBE

Between 2010 and 2016 Naomi painstakingly collected and analysed data from police forces in order to identify behavioural patterns which can be used to help focus the search for missing people and bolster the understanding of how vulnerable a missing person might be.

The College of Policing evaluated iFIND and found it to be better than previously available tools. The college’s Police National Search Centre have used it in their training and it has also been adapted for use in Ireland and through international channels such as the Global Missing Children’s Network.

Naomi carried out the work while completing her doctorate in Criminal Justice.

Naomi said: “I feel so privileged to be given this award and to have the work I carried out for the Missing Persons Unit honoured in this way. It was a huge undertaking and I feel enormously proud to have produced a tool which is used across the whole of the UK in both law enforcement and national search services.”   

Director General Lynne Owens said: “iFind is an incredible tool which supports police forces here and internationally and other third sector parties in the  search for missing people. It is devastating for families when a loved one goes missing and this tool helps set early search parameters giving the best possibility of prompt success.”

27 December 2019