An inspirational officer who has dedicated his career to helping vulnerable children escape exploitation has been honoured with an MBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours list.
Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams has been awarded an MBE for his services to policing and his incredible work leading the British Transport Police (BTP) County Lines Taskforce.
Gareth joined BTP in 1992 and in his 30-year career has worked across a broad range of roles from covert policing, to homicide and domestic abuse investigations. In 2019 he wrote a successful bid for funding which saw the creation of the first ever BTP County Lines Taskforce.
Under Gareth’s stewardship the taskforce has delivered impressive results, protecting vulnerable people who have been coerced into the drug trafficking industry, and bringing numerous offenders to justice who have sought to coerce and exploit the vulnerable.
Since it was established in December 2019, the team have made 2,342 arrests, 1,691 drug seizures, and £1.4m in cash seizures. They have removed 570 weapons from the rail network, with 123 referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism, the framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery.
Gareth’s focus has been on protecting vulnerable children and adults exploited by organised criminals, with 24 individuals having been charged with modern day slavery offences and those they exploited safeguarded from harm.
He also introduced and supported several safeguarding initiatives which have reached millions of young people across the UK, including the “Don’t Take the Bait” social media campaign which reached 4.6 million children aged 13-15, helping to prevent them from becoming victims of county lines exploitation.
His citation reads: “His unfaltering drive to identify and disrupt those who seek to coerce and control the vulnerable is inspiring to those who work with and for him.”
It adds: “He has regularly gone above and beyond, leading the way in the fight against county lines criminality. The railways and public are significantly safer because of his leadership, commitment, and dedication.”
On receiving this honour, Gareth said: “I am extremely proud for my achievements to be recognised in this way. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with many outstanding individuals, who have provided invaluable support and guidance to me.
“Most recently, I have had the pleasure of establishing and leading the County Lines Taskforce; a team of outstanding individuals, motivated by simply doing the right thing - making interventions to keep vulnerable people safe.
“When we embarked on our county lines efforts, I didn’t fully understand the scale of the challenge, but I have been extremely proud to watch us not only maintain our initial impetus and impact, but continually improve over the last four years.
“It’s been an honour to lead a team that has made a real difference to exploited young people, involved in drug supply on the railway network.”
Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said: “Gareth has been outstanding in leading our county lines taskforce. He has worked tirelessly with his team to safeguard exploited vulnerable children and make the railway network safer for everyone. He is relentless in his pursuit of those causing harm to communities through the supply of illegal drugs and exploitation of people.
“His dedication to policing is admirable, leading the way for others and showcasing the very best of the British Transport Police. We are extremely proud of him, and I wish to congratulate him on this honour on behalf of everyone.”