I was born in 1968 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I grew up during the height of the ‘troubles,’ a conflict which would see over 3000 people killed. At 19, I joined a police forced entitled the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and was soon stationed in South Armagh, working with the military to patrol the area. At the time, South Armagh was considered one of the most dangerous counties to be stationed in, with such significant numbers of military and police casualties that it was referred to as ‘Bandit Country’.
Over the course of of my career, I progressed through the ranks and gained experience in investigations, operations, command, events, close protection and counter terrorism. My interest in counter terrorism continued to grow, and I soon decided to study it academically at St Andrews University, eventually securing a ‘Masters’ in the subject. My studies allowed me to study and advise internationally, such as the work I did with both the Nigerian and British governments in their fight against the terrorist organisation Boko Haram.
I have assisted the United Nations in its campaign for the prevention of torture, lectured in the United States of America for the FBI National Academy Association and law enforcement agencies, and assisted in the development on human rights programs for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
In the midst of all this, I was invited to become a Fellow at Hull University, a position which allowed me to work alongside the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation. My role at Hull University was to bring the lessons learned from my policing and academic experience and apply it to Modern Slavery. While working there, I met Tatiana Kotlyarenko, an inspiring woman working for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and my partner on a presentation for Hull University’s ‘Freedom Summit’ in September 2017. Around that same time, I had the honour of meeting HRH Princess Eugenie of York and Julia de Bonville and learn about their new project, The Anti-Slavery Collective, a bold programme to raise awareness and improve collaboration in the struggle against modern slavery.
Of all the lessons I have learned and hope to bring to this project it is the need to preserve our sense of humanity in adversity. Modern Slavery is a terrible crime but by standing with and supporting groups like The Anti-Slavery Collective, we can be part of the solution.