Strange phone call out of the blue - Charles, an old friend and the last curator of the Dyfed Powys Police Museum, sent me an email and following this, we ended up talking on the phone. It is now 8 years since I completed my 30 years service in the force, and very rarely do I think about that whole section of my life. No regrets, I enjoyed the work and the lifestyle and the responsibility, but 10 years as Tavern Keeper, the last 8 full time, gives one a very different perspective on life.
But the call related to the fact that Dyfed-Powys Police are now ready to celebrate 40 years since the last amalgamation, and have decided to have a "Time Line" commissioned. A painting, it would seem, celebrating the history of the Force.
The press release reads:
Dyfed-Powys Police celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year and to mark the milestone, a timeline painting has been created depicting the Force’s historic beginnings from the night-watchmen of the 1800s through the various amalgamations of its constituent forces to the largest geographical police area in the country that is Dyfed-Powys Police.
The painting has been a collaboration between the Dyfed-Powys Police Museum and Blue Lamp Prints, a company run by a retired Police Officer, who have produced a finely detailed and accurate representation of the diversity of the many iconic locations in Dyfed and Powys and the various Police personnel, uniforms and transport over the years.
The occasion will also see the re-launch of the Dyfed-Powys Police Museum and there will be a small display of artefacts including some of the many photographs held by the museum archive that require identification.
It seems that the bar in the Headquarters has been shut for the last year or so. A trend that seemed to be building throughout the years I was in service. I recall Exeter Police Headquarters had a thriving social club/ bar where many serving and retired officers regularly attended, but most other forces seem to have cut back over the years. Bars and social clubs have been axed as socialising has become less acceptable in the days of increased breathalyser activity and reduced "discretion" for alcohol related behaviour.
But the old bar is now to be the host for the new Police Museum - something that I totally failed to achieve through my years of responsibility. The best I managed was a fairly secure and dry garage unit at Ammanford Police Station and the facilities to try to keep the artifacts safe, dry and preserved, and to retain the help and enthusiasm of Charles - our curator.
I will look forward to seeing Charles again - and hope that he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves for many years of voluntary service to both the Force and History of the area....
But as I look back upon the period, I also spoke with another colleague who is still working in the Communication Centre, the building of which I project managed together with the centralisation of telephony as one of my last major projects.
During the conversation I recalled the last day that I spent in Dyfed-Powys Police.
I suppose many would slow down on their last day, and in fairness I had managed to clear my desk and gather most of my various ornaments that had decorated my offices over the years, and place them into boxes that Charles would have approved of for their compactness and security - though he would have been appalled at my lack of classification. Sad to say - I think that at least one of those boxes is still intact and in the store, untouched and unsorted, but at least a couple of flying pigs did make it out of boxes and into places in the house ....
No, the desk was clear, but I spent the last day with a very active schedule. I recall a couple of "important" meetings to hand over various duties, and two members of staff were due "staff Appraisals". Though they could wait for my successor, I was not convinced that he/she would give them the credit that they deserved for the work that they were achieving. I was at that time "Chief Information Officer" for the Force, with responsibility for Data Protection, Freedom of Information and Criminal Record Bureau Enquiries, including the development at that time of cross force computer links following scandals such as the Soham murders of Holly and Jessica, and the failure to link behaviour of Ian Huntley... leading to the Bichard Enquiry and new procedures and greater responsibilities to share information.
I formed the opinion that my time was best spent, even on my last day - ensuring the fair treatment of staff under my responsibility. Sad to say, not something that I had always received in my time in the Force.
I remember re-visiting the Communication Centre, seeing the staff there, also the Fire and Ambulance Service emergency centres which were also housed in the building and who had shared the development of services.. All of which meant that I was actually once more working overtime... Overtime was unpaid from the time I was an inspector so it meant little to me ... but it was part of the job.
When we had been building the Communications Centre, one of the first structural things created was a pond just below the old bowling green, to act as drainage for the field before the foundations went in. It was concrete but over the time that the building was raised, it slowly got some bushes and greenery around it. By the time I was Chief Inspector in charge of the Control Room and Communication Centre and the building was finished, my office would overlook this pond - and I often mused that it needed ducks upon it .....
I must have mentioned it more than once, as just before I finished, my wife presented me with a duck that she had bought on Ebay.... Not a real one I hasten to add.. but a Decoy Duck...
So my last task after saying all my goodbyes, was to paint a short message upon the base of the duck...
|"Goodbye" on this side|
|This side says "And thanks for all the fish"|
it is in too small writing to see here
So as I spoke with that colleague and reminisced about my last day - he exclaimed "The Duck??? It was yours ??"
Apparently it was there for at least a few years sitting placidly in the middle of the pond. It seems that it was seen by others while I expected it to be ignored and overlooked. I understand it was there for a few years - it is now 8 years since it first touched water - so I suppose it had a good innings...
I am told that there are a couple of real ducks on the pond now ... so some plans do come to final fruition...
July 25th will be the launch of the Time Line and an invitation to return to the headquarters for the first time since leaving a duck in the pond.... I wonder what changes I will see?
Watch this space... I may survive to tell the tale...