Police film pays tribute to the victim of its longest ever homicide investigation

Tina Wilson whispers through her tears about her “loving daughter” who was “caring” and “cheeky“ in a new film released by Cleveland Police’s comms team to coincide with the sentencing of her daughter Rachel’s killer.

One of the pictures of Rachel Wilson shown in a new film paying tribute to her

The move is a deliberate attempt by Cleveland Police to place Rachel at the heart of the coverage of her killer’s sentencing, with the force choosing not to circulate any pictures of her killer.

Rachel was just 19 when she went missing in Middlesbrough in 2002. She had been groomed and abused by Keith Hall, who introduced her to crack cocaine and forced her into prostitution.

Rachel Wilson was 19 when she was killed by Keith Hill

Her family lived for a decade not knowing what had become of her, until 2012 – when Rachel’s remains were discovered in a drainage ditch on the outskirts of Middlesbrough. 

The macabre discovery prompted a murder investigation – the force’s longest to date – which finally resulted in the conviction of Hall for manslaughter. 

He was sentenced on Monday for 18-and-a-half years.

In loving memory

The comms team at Cleveland Police worked with Ithica Films on the film This is Rachel to tell the story of who she was.

The film states: “This is a story about a beautiful young girl, who had her future stolen from her.”

It starts with pictures of Rachel as a toddler, showing her turning into a teenager during the course of the film in which her family pays tribute to their loved one.

Her younger sister Nicola remembers Rachel as “such a beautiful, caring sister, friend... she was amazing.

Her mother Tina describes Rachel as a “loving young girl” and says: “I just want her to come home to be honest with you still.”

The film also features police officers who have worked closely with the family over the years in a bid to provide the justice they were searching for.

Detective Superintendent Paula Dewell, one of those featured, says: “Victims can get very much lost in the process and the system, so it's really important, particularly in a case like this that has gone on for so long, that we wanted to make sure Rachel wasn’t lost and that people finally got to know a little bit more about Rachel.”

Comms approach

Kimberley Walker, deputy head of corporate comms at Cleveland Police, told PRWeek: “Rachel was a victim, a vulnerable teenager who was exploited.” She added the film “seeks to highlight who Rachel was and the love of her family.

Walker said: “Her family were supportive of the film and our decision to make Rachel front and centre of our messaging through our channels and the media. They felt that Rachel got lost in the narrative that had been portrayed years ago.”

The senior investigating officer spent several hours last Friday with the family and the media giving pre-sentence briefings and interviews on Rachel and her life and “how she was a victim and exploited.”

The film is being promoted across the force’s social channels and has reached more than 70,000 people so far, with more than 17,000 engagements.

The force’s comms team plans to share the film “with partner agencies and stakeholders and to the national service to amplify the important work of family liaison officers, Walker added.

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