Mark Whelan receives MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his dedication to protecting children from sexual exploitation

Mark Whelan, Pace Training Coordinator has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services in the Police, protecting children at risk of sexual exploitation.

Mark served for 24 years in the Lancashire Constabulary and was instrumental in setting up Engage, one of the first teams in the UK dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation.

Mark was very surprised and humbled to receive the award:

“Being nominated for an award like this was a total surprise to me. I feel extremely humbled that not only had someone taken the time to nominate me, but that the I should have been considered in the first place. Working as a police officer has been everything I could have hoped for in a career and Lancashire Constabulary have been, and still are an amazing organisation that gives their officers and staff encouragement to make a real difference in people’s lives.

I am able to say with total conviction that behind this award stands a team of extremely talented individuals. Lancashire Constabulary Police Officers, social workers and managers, and charity workers who have worked tirelessly over many years safeguarding children and their families from exploitation. I absolutely share this with them, and like many of the families we have helped over the past 15 years or so would like to place on record my thanks to them.”

Under Mark’s leadership, the Engage team developed a family-centred approach, enabling the establishment of trusting relationships between the victims, their families, the police and other supporting agencies. Mark understood that parents are part of the solution and should supported and safeguarded whilst the offenders’ behaviours where targeted and disrupted.

Mark’s approach was immensely impactful to the parent’s involved in their investigations, one affected parent said:

When I first met the Engage Team I was relieved to have people arrive who understood what me and my family had been going through. Before this I would dread the police coming, I felt supported through the investigation and trial and found the debrief with the Sergeant and Detective really helpful after the sentencing. This helped me to then explain and answer the questions my daughter had. My family will take a long time to heal from what’s happened but we feel very supported in making that happen’

Mark also championed for a trauma-informed, victim-focussed approach to the way families were supported through court based on his experience of supporting victims and their families through successful prosecutions.

Mark has received several superintendent and chief constable awards for policing, including a Chief Constable Commendation for Bravery.

Mark now develops and delivers training to front-line professionals across England and Wales for Pace.

Lindsay Dalton, Head of Training and Partnerships said

“We are very pleased and proud that Mark has been recognised for the tremendous work he has accomplished in his policing career, but specifically the last 15 years when he has worked leading the child exploitation team.

Mark has a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a genuine approach to supporting practice improvement for families affected by child exploitation.

The honour is truly deserved to recognise all that Mark has done to improve the response to child exploitation. Well done Mark from all your Pace colleagues and friends.”