Alumni Spotlight: supporting victims and investigating crime across North Wales
Thursday 31st August 2023
Janette Williams decided to make a career change in 2019 when she joined North Wales Police via Police Now’s National Detective Programme, after working for 25 years in accountancy and other sectors.
Whilst on the challenging two-year programme, Janette worked in the force’s Criminal Investigations Department to solve a variety of complex cases. Thanks to her investigative skills, she linked three offenders to a string of burglaries and all spent time behind bars. She also investigated a case following reports that an SD card had been found containing over 2,300 private images and videos of an individual, taken without consent. Janette provided outstanding victim support and the offender was sentenced to 41 months in prison and given a five-year restraining order.
Upon completing Police Now’s programme, Janette worked in the Child Protection Team to investigate cases of sexual, physical and emotional neglect for one of the most vulnerable groups in society. She has recently passed the sergeants’ exam with an ‘exceptional’ score and is now in an acting detective sergeant role for the force’s Domestic Abuse team.
Read more about her work below in this month’s Alumni Spotlight.
Acting Detective Sergeant Janette Williams
“I joined North Wales Police in 2019 after 25 years of working in other sectors, including as an Accounts Practice Manager for an accountancy firm and later as an Armed Forces Liaison Officer. I had always thought that policing was a career that most people joined straight from school or in their early 20s but when Police Now’s National Detective Programme launched, it broke down that misconception for me and I realised I qualified for the programme despite being a career changer. The idea of being able to train as a detective within the first two years of joining the force particularly appealed to me, so I was delighted when I secured a place on the pilot programme.
“After completing the challenging training academy and spending several weeks on the Response team, I moved into the force’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID). Whilst in CID I continued to learn and develop my investigative skills across a number of cases, including a series of burglaries. We arrested a suspect who was caught leaving a property he had burgled and, through analysing evidence extracted from mobile phones and a vehicle that was left in the area, we tracked down the other two suspects. I realised that two other burglaries in the area matched a similar pattern and through further evidence gathering I was able to link the suspects to those incidents as well. The three offenders originally pleaded not guilty to the charges but thanks to the strength of the evidence we collected, they changed their plea to guilty and all served time in prison.
“I also led an investigation following reports that an SD card had been found containing over 2,300 images and video clips of someone, who had seemingly been filmed without consent in a private bathroom. I was the Officer in Charge of this case and organised further police searches and a digital forensics review of the items seized. With the evidence collected we were able to charge the suspect with a number of offences including the then-new criminal offence of ‘upskirting’, which came into effect in 2019 under the Voyeurism Act. The offender pleaded guilty to three counts of voyeurism, two counts of operating equipment beneath the clothing of another without consent, and one count of outraging public decency. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison and given a five-year restraining order. The victim was incredibly affected by the case so supporting her through the ordeal was a priority for me. When the offender was sentenced in court, she told me that she did not think she’d have got through the investigation without my support, which was a proud moment for me in my early policing career.
“I then moved into the Child Protection Team, one of the force’s safeguarding units, and remained in that team after graduating from Police Now’s programme in September 2021. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society and unfortunately, too many children face neglect or abuse from those in a position of care or responsibility. In my role I work with partner organisations, including social services, to investigate serious crime involving children and improve the lives of children in our communities.
“I have worked on a wide variety of investigations so far within this role, including cases of sexual abuse and emotional or physical neglect. I recently worked with three young siblings who had previously refused to speak to professionals, but through visiting their home and building a positive relationship with them they decided to complete video interviews, which allowed us to collect sufficient evidence of neglect. It is never easy removing children from their homes and the decision is not made lightly, but sometimes it is a necessity. Having now been placed into long-term foster care, the siblings are much happier and have said that only now do they realise how bad their previous living situation had been.
“I also investigated a non-recent sexual offence case in which both the suspect and victim were juveniles at the time of the crime, meaning both parties were vulnerable young people. I worked with partner agencies to support the victim through the horrific incident, but I also worked to educate and rehabilitate the perpetrator. They received a 24-month youth rehabilitation order, were placed on the sexual offender register and were subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, meaning they will be additionally monitored until they are 18.
“Despite the challenging nature of the role – both due to the complicated nature of the investigations and the emotional toll of investigating crimes involving children – I enjoy working in the Child Protection Team. It allows me to support families and safeguard those who really need our help, which is the reason I was motivated to join the service to begin with. However, I have temporarily moved to a new maternity cover role, for an exciting acting detective sergeant opportunity in the Domestic Abuse team.
“I passed the sergeants’ exam in March of this year and have just started in this acting role, where I will be supervising a team of domestic abuse officers. I will also chair regular Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) meetings, which sees teams across the force and community come together to manage high risk cases and safeguard victims of domestic abuse. I am pleased to be working on this new team with some amazing colleagues in my first sergeant role and I am excited to see where my career takes me next.”