Moving reunion among highlights of detective's latest Guatemala visit
A Suffolk police officer has been recognised by the government of Guatemala for sharing her knowledge and experience of child protection.
For five years, Detective Sergeant Sarah Elliott has made annual visits to the Central American country to volunteer for children’s charity Street Kids Direct.
On her latest trip, DS Elliott was asked by the charity director to deliver training to volunteers.
An invitation followed from the UK ambassador to Guatemala to discuss how Suffolk deals with child abuse and sexual offences.
It resulted in DS Elliott giving a presentation to the Guatemalan police, social services and other leading children’s charities.
With constabulary backing, she shared investigation techniques, policies and procedures, before a question and answer session.
DS Elliott, who was awarded a diploma for the protection of children for her contribution, said: “It is hoped that this will act as a catalyst for the Guatemalan government to review their own procedures when it comes to dealing with children.”
The self-funded trip was her fifth to the country. Aside from the embassy visit, highlights included meeting old friend, Sergio.
“I have known a young lad called Sergio for the last four years,” she said.
“I met him when he was living on a street corner with other kids.
“I knew he had left the streets, but had been unable to locate him for the last two years, and neither could the charity, as his life had taken a turn for the worse.
“However, to my surprise Sergio had returned to the charity to ask for assistance once more, and I was able to spend valuable time with him.
“Sergio shared his testimony with me. This brought me to tears, and I am just so happy to see him complete his education, and can’t wait to see him go on to complete his dreams.
“Another highlight was working on the streets, where we organise games in one of the most dangerous gang-organised territories. We were able to engage some of the older children to run and organise games for the younger ones.
“This was incredible to see, as the older ones are so caught up in the gangs that use them to do their drug running and shootings.
“It was great to see teenage boys doing what they actually should be doing, and I hope the volunteers will continue to engage them in this way.”