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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Retiring inspector back on beat
Tom Edwards
Tom Edwards will head back to the classroom to become a CSO
A police inspector who is retiring after 30 years' service is going straight back on the beat.

Tom Edwards, 59, who has worked in CID, the vice squad and Special Branch, is becoming a community support officer (CSO) in Llanelli.

He said he was looking forward to more day-to-day contact with the public after his recent years in an office.

CSOs were introduced to tackle anti-social behaviour and low level crime, with plans for 25,000 by 2008.

I think probably a lot of my colleagues must think I'm mad taking on the role
Insp Tom Edwards

They do not have the same powers of arrest as regular police officers and their role has been questioned but Mr Edwards said he believed they were becoming an important part of policing.

"The face of policing is changing nationally and I think it's more the CSOs that will provide that presence on the street which will leave police officers, who are higher trained, to deal with the more serious issues," he said.

"CSOs are an addition not a substitute for police officers - we have not got the wide range of powers available to police officers but I have no doubt in my own mind the way things are developing they will have a lot more powers.

"I'm pretty confident that I know most of the problems that blight local communities.

"Very often it's not your serious crime - people are often very much more concerned with local problems such as yobbish behaviour and anti-social behaviour.

"When I joined there was not a policeman in every village - the so-called bobby on the beat - but certainly a lot more than there is now.

"That's what the public want to see - they want to see a more visible presence on the street.

"That's what very much appeals to me - you are back on the streets dealing with the public, where as recently in my police role I've been more or less tied to the office in a managerial role.

"It's like any other profession - the higher up the ladder you go the more remote I suppose you become from the real work - in terms of policing the point of contact with the public."

Mr Edwards ends his career as an inspector next week and will join the neighbourhood police team in Llwynhendy straight away.

Knowledge and experience

"I'm not aware of anyone else who has done their time with the police and then become a support officer and I think probably a lot of my colleagues must think I'm mad taking on the role," he added.

"I'm loath to say I'm 60 next month and people may say it's time to put your feet up, but I've always kept myself fairly fit. I think I have a strong presence about me and will be able to make a difference.

"The ironic thing in a way is after 30 years in the police service with the knowledge and experience I've gained in that time I will be back in the classroom.

"I'm not naive enough to think I won't be able to learn and pick up a lot of things from my younger colleagues who are probably less than half my age.

"Equally, I'm sure they'll be able to bounce things off myself in terms of how to do the job."

Drive to recruit 10,000 officers
21 Aug 06 |  Bristol/Somerset
Community officers 'ineffective'
26 Jan 06 |  UK Politics

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