MARITIME hostage negotiator Suzanne Williams, a key figure in securing the safe rescue of many victims of piracy, has been chosen as Personality of the Year 2010 by the Women's International Shipping & Trading Association.
The announcement was made at the WISTA International Conference 2010 in Athens. It comes at a time when piracy remains a huge threat to international shipping.
Ms Williams runs her own company in London, Sue Williams International, representing Special Contingency Risks, and for years has been instrumental in resolving many dangerous kidnap and terrorist cases.
She has been to the fore in many highly sensitive attempts to free merchant ships and crew members from the clutches of bandits
operating off east Africa and elsewhere, and after giving a gripping presentation on her work to the WISTA International Conference in London in 2009, she was chosen as WISTA-UK Personality of the Year 2010.
A crisis management advisor and accredited senior investigator, Ms Williams has been a hostage negotiator since 1991, having been called on to assist in many life-or-death cases, initially during her 32 years as a London Metropolitan police officer. When she retired from the force in 2008, she was head of the Hostage Crisis Unit at New Scotland Yard. Among her duties, she has been part of the Royalty Protection Group working from Buckingham Palace.
Her involvement in issues related to maritime violence began in 1996 when she was requested on behalf of a British coroner to investigate a suspicious death at sea caused by pirates. Since then she has contributed to working groups on the legislation and prevention of piracy, and assisted in the preparation and performance of counter terrorist exercises involving kidnap and hostage negotiation, many of which were of a maritime nature.In 2004 she was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in recognition of her commitment to her specialist fields. Her charity work includes acting as a Trustee for Hostage UK, an organisation that supports families and victims of international hostage taking.