Four fab PCSOs celebrate 16 years on the beat
Playing a vital role in reassuring the public and preventing offences, PCSOs patrol in uniform and deal with street offences and anti-social behaviour - that’s what was promised when the first Police Community Support Officers took to the streets.
And 16 years later, four of the original cohort are still serving with West Midlands Police.
Julie Hickman, Nicola Tinker and Deborah Hancox are still stationed in Dudley, where they began their service. And Amarjit Randhawa recently moved to Smethwick, having been based in Dudley for the bulk of his career.
The super-four hit the beat for the first time on 18 August 2003 and began their duties following training at Dudley police station.
While they don’t have all the powers of a police officer, PCSOs have become familiar and reassuring faces in communities across the borough, working as part of the neighbourhood policing team to build strong and enduring relationships with local people.
Their role has gone from strength to strength and the force now employs PCSOs on every neighbourhood, many in specialist roles including a cyber-specialist and a super recogniser.
Commander of Dudley police, Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner said: “Our PCSOs are the absolute foundation of neighbourhood policing.
“We are delighted to recognise 16 years of dedication to our community and it says everything about the community spirit of Dudley that every one of our four PCSOs who remain from the original West Midlands Police cohort who joined in 2003 have either served in or continued to serve the people of Dudley borough."
On Wednesday morning (4 September), the Mayor of Dudley welcomed the four to the Mayor’s Parlour following a tour of the Council Chamber. The group talked about their experiences on the beat, their affection for the communities they serve and the rewards of the work they do.
The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor David Stanley said: “I’m really glad I was able to welcome the officers to the Council House. We’re all aware of the important work they do and their contribution to the wider work of the West Midlands Police force.
“I know that for many people, seeing the PCSOs in their communities is really reassuring. They’re friendly and approachable, professional and highly dedicated to service our local communities. I’d like to thank them and all of the PCSOs who help to make the borough a safer place to live."
Julie Hickman was one of the first recruits to join West Midlands Police and says that making a difference, helping people, and preventing and detecting crime are what has kept her in the role for more than a decade.
“The first years were exciting but came with an abundance of bridges to build and cross over," said Julie, who is currently based in Brierley Hill.
“When I first arrived I hit the ground running, however I learnt very quickly that to solve a problem was not a one man job and to deal effectively with issues blighting an area you need to tackle the root cause, by working with other people and organisations.
“Throughout my time I have been able to build amazing relationships with the partner agencies, charities and active citizens in the area. This has developed through time and now we have an excellent team of people that work together to solve issues within the community.
“I’ve helped care for the youngest, oldest and most vulnerable people on my patch, and have had to wear many hats besides that of a police officer - this has included leader, trainer, life saver, mental health advisor, litter picker, bag packer and chef - you name it and somewhere over the years I have been it!"
Meanwhile Nicola Tinker, from the Dudley Central Team, said: "A good PCSO should be embedded in their community and with time you gain the trust and respect of all the community groups.
"Stability is vital in neighbourhood policing for the public to get to know their local PCSO, who is now the modern day beat bobby.
"Helping people is the most rewarding part of the job, be it just giving directions whilst on foot patrol to saving a life. I’m lucky enough to have had a huge variety of experiences during my time as a PCSO."
While the ‘fab four’ pioneered the role of the PCSO 16 years ago, the force ambition to be at the forefront of innovation and personal development remains steadfast. West Midlands Police has continuously introduced new, ground-breaking roles encouraging people of all walks of life to take up a rewarding career in policing.
The latest being the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, which offers student officers the chance to study for a degree while they serve, and a shorter Graduate Diploma available for degree-holders only.
If you’re interested in working for the force head to our careers site, to check out all the latest opportunities.