Thursday 23 May 2024
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Popular PCSO stepping down after 36 years with Nottinghamshire Police

PCSO Park, now aged 66, became a Police Community Support Officer in 2005.

A popular PCSO is finally hanging up his uniform after spending more than 36 years with Nottinghamshire Police.

PCSO Paul Park, a popular figure on his regular beat in the Eakring area of Mansfield, joined the force as a traffic warden back in 1985 after moving from Liverpool in the late 1970s.

It was while he was working as a bus conductor that his wife suggested he apply for the job – a challenging-but-important role for which he turned out to be a natural fit.

However, as PCSO Park revealed, his Nottinghamshire Police career was very nearly over before it began.

He explained: “In those days traffic wardens were part of the police so off I went to the old Central Police Station in Nottingham for my interview… which ended after about ten minutes when I was told I had failed my eye test.

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“I thought ‘well that’s that then’ but a week later I got a letter telling me they had made a mistake and assumed I was applying to become a police officer. It turned out I didn’t need the eye test as a traffic warden so my second interview went a lot better than the first.

“I had done loads of different jobs since leaving school at the age of 15 but being a traffic warden was a perfect fit for me. Obviously, you don’t always make a lot of friends when you’re handing out tickets but it was actually that interaction with other people that I really enjoyed about the job.

“Of course, I did get a bit of aggro from time to time but ultimately I was always fair with people if they were fair with me. I didn’t see the job as handing out tickets – I saw it as working with people to keep the traffic moving.

“I have always been a very social person and I took that approach to work with me. I would have a joke with people and they would sometimes have a joke with me – but once I got that ticket out there was really no going back.”

PCSO Park, now aged 66, became a Police Community Support Officer in 2005 when traffic wardens became the responsibility of local councils.

His new community policing role came with several new powers but fundamentally depended for its success on the same well-hone people skills, discretion and old-fashioned life-experience.

He added: “When I started in the role the idea of a PCSO was still fairly new so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But ultimately it was actually quite similar to what I had done before.

“For me it has always been about helping people and trying to solve their problems – and to do that effectively I think you need to a real people person and know how to connect with the public.

“We regularly come across people who are angry or distressed or really at the lowest point in their lives because of something that has happened to them. Being able to help that person in that moment is really important to me.

“But above all this has always been a fun job for me. I couldn’t imagine being stuck behind a desk all day and not getting to talk to other people.  I have loved the time I have spent with my colleagues and the friends I have made, and I think one of the only things I won’t miss about it is walking about in the cold.”

PCSO Park completed his last shift from Mansfield Police station on Thursday and now plans to spend more time travelling with his caravan and fishing.

Police Community Support Officers work alongside police officers to help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. Although they do not have powers of arrest they do have the power to detain people when necessary, and can also issue fixed penalty notices for certain offences.

Inspector Nick Butler, district commander for Mansfield, said: “Paul is a popular and well-respected member of the neighbourhood team who has always approached neighbourhood policing in exactly the right way – with the victims of crime uppermost in his thoughts. We will greatly miss his wisdom, his humour and his friendship and wish him all the very best of luck in the future.”

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