A South Wales Police officer has won a prestigious national award from road safety charity Brake for his work as a family liaison officer – having been nominated by a family he supported.
Sergeant Darren Westall, from the force’s Roads Policing Unit, was nominated by the family of Ryan Hamer, 20, who died following a crash involving a car in which he was a passenger in April 2019.
Ryan’s mum, Cerys, and brother, Mitch, have spoken about their experience and urged motorists to drive safely on the roads.
They have also praised Sgt Westall, their family liaison officer, for the support he showed them during the subsequent legal process.
Brake said the family praised Sgt Westall’s “painstaking efforts to ensure they were given the information they needed, and thanked him for providing an invaluable source of comfort throughout the inquest and court proceedings”.
Brake announced the winners of this year’s awards at an online ceremony on Wednesday.
Superintendent Jason James, head of specialist operations at South Wales Police, said:
“Family liaison officers have an incredibly important role and can be a pillar of strength for a family coming to terms with what are often incredibly difficult circumstances. I know how much the empathy and support they show is valued by those families.
“In this case, the support Ryan’s family has been shown by Darren has clearly been valued extremely highly. It’s really generous of Ryan’s family to nominate Darren for this award, and I’m grateful to them for doing so, and to Darren for the compassion he has shown.
“My thoughts and sympathies are with Ryan’s family, and I sincerely hope their bravery in speaking out encourages anyone who gets behind the wheel to ensure they do so safely.”
Tracey Lister, head of Brake’s National Road Victim Service, said:
“Everyone who entered the Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards 2021 deserves enormous praise and thanks for their work over the past year in exceptionally challenging circumstances. The three winners have all shown outstanding care and commitment when helping bereaved families and we are grateful for everything they have done.”
Sgt Tim MacAleenan, National Roads Policing Family Liaison Lead, said:
“Being a family liaison officer can be one of the most challenging roles within the police service and is a voluntary role as a result of the demands it places on individuals.”