Winner: Bradley Fox - F1625
The winning nomination for the Zena Scott Archer Award 2020 was submitted by Tom Leighton of V3 Investigations in respect of an historic Missing Person enquiry that was carried out by Brad Fox of Fox Investigations Services Ltd.
The investigation was supported by a testimonial submitted by the missing persons family, the poster used in the campaign, photos of the reconciliation of the missing man and his family and 2 newspaper articles that covered the story. Camden New Journal, and Ham&High
In 1997 at age 16 Paul Watson went missing from home. His parents had recently separated with his father living in Chislehurst, Kent and his mother moving to Brighton. During this disrupted period Paul would spend time at both parents addresses as well as staying with friends. His disappearance wasn’t noticed immediately but it was subsequently reported to the police. However, nothing was heard of him until 2003 when he was serving a term of imprisonment at HMP Pentonville for possession of drugs.
His mother Pauline and her new husband Graham Davis visited Paul in prison and made arrangements to meet him on the day of his release but due to miscommunication issues with the prison service they never met Paul that day and wouldn’t see him for another 15 years.
During the summer of 2018 Brad Fox was instructed to make investigations to trace Paul. However, as Paul had gone missing at 16 and basically lived on the streets from that time, he didn’t have a bank account, mobile phone and had never had a permanent address so there were no electronic searches that could assist the enquiry.
The only lead was historical fines that were forwarded to his mother by the railway and tube authorities. The fines indicated that Paul frequented the Kings Cross and Victoria areas of London.
Brad initially contacted numerous charities, outreach organisations, soup kitchens and homeless shelters without any positive information being obtained.
Brad then made various visits to London with and without his colleague Tom Leighton and spoke to shop keepers, the homeless and passers-by to see if anyone had seen or heard of Paul’s whereabouts. During this time, he distributed hundreds of posters and with the permission of the family made most of the enquiries free of charge.
Eventually on 18 September 2019 Brad was informed by a solicitor contact who worked with the homeless himself that an outreach worker had spoken to a homeless man in Bethnal Green, London who was using the name Paul Watson and had the same date of birth as Brad’s subject.
The following day Brad visited the area and after a few hours of making foot enquiries spoke to a homeless man who told him he knew Paul and that chances where he would find him at Bethnal Green railway station.
Brad spent the next few hours walking in and around the Bethnal Green station, examining everyone as they passed him by. At around 6pm he noticed a man who had resemblance to Paul who was begging for food at a local cafe.
Brad approached him and asked him his name, the man replied “Paul”, Brad asked “Paul what?” and he said “Paul Watson”. Brad simply replied “your parents have been looking for you for over sixteen years”.
A few days later the family and Paul were reconciled and Paul is now attempting to turn his life around with the support of both his family and Brad.
Tom finished the nomination by explaining that Brad had spent something like 250 hours on this enquiry and had even used his own money to assist Paul with the use of a mobile phone, bought him a set of new clothes and clean up haircut and shave prior to meeting his mother and her husband. He even paid for a Travelodge stay the night before the reconciliation.