Tributes paid to 'funny', 'kind' and 'friendly' former Sheffield police chief who hanged himself

Paul Broadbent (photo: GLAA)
Paul Broadbent (photo: GLAA)
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The widow of a former Sheffield police chief who hanged himself has paid tribute to the 'doting' father who she said 'touched the lives of so many'.

Paul Broadbent, an ex-district commander in Sheffield, was found dead at his home on Tor Close, in Barnsley, on Wednesday, December 27.

His inquest today concluded the 54-year-old, who more recently led the fight against modern day slavery as chief executive of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), had taken his own life.

Speaking afterwards, his widow Fiona Broadbent said: "Our lives changed forever on December 27.

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"I am left with a deep sense of loss and sadness which will never, ever go away. Paul was a father, son, husband, brother, cousin, friend and colleague… he touched the lives of so many people who couldn't help fall for his charm, his wit, his infectious character.

"You couldn’t help but like Paul. He was funny, kind, warm, friendly. Those who knew him professionally saw all of these qualities alongside an appetite to serve the public, to right injustice.

"I will forever be proud of the contribution Paul made to keeping people safe during his 30 years as a police officer and as head of the GLAA tackling labour exploitation.

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"Paul was a family man, a father who adored and doted on his daughter and was never happier than when spending time with us...

"My priority now is to give our daughter the love and support she needs to come to terms with the loss of her father. I will also help her understand just how much he meant to other people and the valuable work that he did, helping so many.

"I have found real comfort in the hundreds of messages of support from Paul’s friends and colleagues, and on behalf of all family members we thank you."

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The inquest at Sheffield Coroner's Court heard how Mr Broadbent had spent a 'nice' Christmas with his daughter and wife, from whom he had separated earlier that year, but Mrs Broadbent had raised the alarm after he failed to call as expected that Wednesday.

Mr Broadbent's father-in-law visited his home that evening and found him hanged. He was declared dead at the scene.

The inquest was told how Mr Broadbent had been prescribed medication for sleeping problems and anxiety about 18 months before his death but, according to his widow, the keen runner had appeared 'fine and himself' in the days before his death.

Mrs Broadbent said she had been concerned by a letter she received from her late husband a couple of days before Christmas, which led her to believe he may have been at risk of self-harming.

But she said a family friend, who is an experienced counsellor, had spoken to Mr Broadbent and subsequently assured her there was nothing to worry about.

Coroner Christopher Dorries concluded that Mr Broadbent 'took his own life and intended to do so'.

Mr Broadbent had joined South Yorkshire Police as a PC in 1985 after starting his career in Cumbria, where he was born and raised.

He left in 2010 to become an assistant chief constable at Nottinghamshire Police, before retiring from the police two years later and joining the GLAA.

Following his death, an appeal launched in his memory raised nearly £9,000 for the charity Unseen, which manages the national Modern Slavery Helpline and works with survivors of modern slavery and trafficking.

The GLAA said in a statement: "The profound shock so many of us still feel for Paul's sudden and tragic loss is mirrored only by a deep sense of sadness and bewilderment at the circumstances of his death. To us, he will always be the charismatic leader who epitomised everything we stand for at the GLAA.

"Today, we remain as determined and focused as ever on ensuring Paul's legacy is built upon by making the GLAA a highly renowned and respected law enforcement and compliance agency, dedicated to protecting vulnerable and exploited workers."

* If you would like to speak to someone about what you're going through, you can call Samaritans at any time on 116 123.