October is Black History Month (BHM), an annual celebration of the contributions of Black people to British society. To celebrate, we will be featuring interviews with people from within and outside the CPS.
Our third interview is with Ayo Awoyungbo OBE, a Senior Crown Prosecutor at the International Justice and Organised Crime Division, who was recently awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the justice system.
How does it feel to be awarded an OBE?
It feels great! It’s gratifying to be recognised for my work abroad and I hope that the honour encourages others in the same way that it has encouraged me. I’ve enjoyed the congratulatory messages from friends and colleagues across the organisation and hope that I can receive the medal at an in-person investiture, accompanied by family. They are very proud; having supported all my overseas deployments they deserve a fantastic day out, COVID-19 permitting.
Have you ever had something happen to you that you thought was bad but it turned out to be for the best?
Many years ago I applied for a CPS training contract. I was working as an A2 at the time. Although my application was unsuccessful, with hindsight I think it was for the best as I left the CPS and secured a training contract in a small high street firm where I had seats in housing and immigration. I subsequently worked in a law centre assisting some of the most vulnerable people in society, and later as a local government legal advisor. These roles provided excellent experience and have made me a more rounded prosecutor.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I would be a journalist, probably covering the #EndSARSNow protests in Nigeria.
What do you think about when you hear ‘Black History Month?’
I welcome the opportunity to celebrate and recognise the contributions that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to the UK over many generations.
What does being a Black person mean to you?
It means that I am privileged to stand on the shoulders of giants.
Why is it important for the CPS to celebrate Black History Month?
Racial inequality is at the top of the news agenda and events during Black History Month often help to provide knowledge and context. As the CPS strives to reflect the community that it serves, the importance of black history as UK history cannot be over-emphasised.