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The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has praised two much valued members of his team after their achievements were recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

Janice Mathias, 76 from Coventry, is a volunteer Custody Visitor for the PCC. The role requires her to visit people who have been arrested and held in custody to check they are being treated in accordance with the law. Whilst Clare Gollop, is the Director of the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit and is leading a team who aim to prevent and tackle the root causes of violence in the region.

Both have been awarded the British Empire Medal.

For Janice, it has been awarded for services to custody visiting, a public duty which she has taken on, without payment, for more than 30 years. She’s so committed, she’s even found time to do it despite running her own business, Kathleen Jessop hairdressers. Remarkably, the grandmother of two spends some of her volunteering time visiting suspected terrorists, who are being held in the region. She also acts as an ‘Appropriate Adult’ for vulnerable individuals who have been arrested.

“When I opened the letter, which said I was to be awarded a British Empire Medal, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Janice said.

“I was so shocked I had to read it twice to check it was for me.

“I love visiting people in custody and giving something back to society, as we all take so much.

“People sometimes ask me if I have any plans to retire and I just smile and tell them that I wouldn’t retire from custody visiting, but I might from hairdressing.”

Whilst Clare Gollop’s award is for services to Victims of Modern Slavery and Vulnerable Young People. 

Prior to her move to the West Midlands, Clare spent 18 years at Devon and Cornwall Police. The last 5 years were leading a national programme that established a strong police response to Modern Slavery across England and Wales.

Clare now heads up the region’s Violence Reduction Unit, which helps establish interventions that will protect young people from violence and break the cycle of crime. It was launched in 2019.

“The news that my efforts are being recognised in this way was a lovely surprise.  

“Every survivor wants to bring about change and prevent harm to others. By strengthening the way that police across the country identify and investigate modern slavery, and by establishing a stronger partnership response to violence within the West Midlands, I hope I have made a difference – but not alone.

“This award really is a recognition of a wider effort by many people who believe it is possible to end violence and exploitation.”

The British Empire Medal will be awarded by the Lord Lieutenant in the Autumn of 2022, whilst the two recipients have also been invited to join the Queen for a garden party.

Commenting on the two awards, The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “I offer my congratulations to both Janice and Clare. One award within my team would be wonderful news, but two is fantastic.

“It’s a real recognition of the dedication, effort and hard work put in by Janice and Clare to serve the people of our region.

“We owe them both a debt of gratitude.”

More information on the custody visitor scheme can be found on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s web page.

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