FEATURE: Winslow PCSO reflects on ten years on the beat
A familiar face to many in the town, Wendy’s time with the team in Winslow is one to be celebrated, but she’s not the only one handing in her badge.
Wendy is a popular figure in the town, in no small part, because of her accomplice Rupee: a teddy bear.
Rupee was drafted into the force by Wendy to help her relate to young children and give members of the community an easy conversation-starter.
The pair can often be found patrolling the high street together.
Wendy explained: “I was wondering how I might get into mums and tots groups, so I had this idea.
“I ran it past PC Siderman, who just said ‘well you’re going to do it anyway.’
PSCB (we’ll let you work that out) Rupee was appointed and Wendy made him a uniform, dying his trousers and laminating a replica badge.
Together, they’ve served the town in a multitude of ways.
Wendy thumbs through a bulging binder of certificates and newspaper cuttings paperwork as she explains everything the team has accomplished.
She’s secured crime scenes, patrolling cordons and reassuring the public.
She’s hit the streets to search for missing people, investigated fly-tipping to find names and link rubbish back to it’s owner.
She’s organised businesswatch, speedwatch, and horsewatch in the town; laid the wreath on Rememberance Sunday countless times; given talks to young people about cyber-crime and anti-social behaviour; arranged regular coffee mornings, and even floored her self-defence trainer twice.
“We’re not going to have to worry about you, Wendy,” he wheezed.
Not bad for someone in her sixties.
“I’ve seen a lot of change in the time that I’ve been here, a lot of change of faces.
“It’s nice to have been consistently here, for people to get to know,” said Wendy.
“And the PCSO role, there’s no progression - that’s the job.
“Unlike an officer, who, after five years, can think about the direction they’d like to move onto; for a PCSO to move up, you’d have to resign and reapply to be a constable.”
Before starting as a PCSO, Wendy worked as a PA and executive assistant at a senior level; she was used to high pressure environments, but joining the police took her away from the rat race.
“A younger PCSO might not be resigned to that but at my stage of life, that’s absolutely fine.
“I quite liked not having that pressure to move up the ladder.”
Wendy started on March 2, 2007: the first PCSO in Buckingham.
Two years later and she was Buckinghamshire’s PCSO of the year, nominated by a community with a clear fondness for the impact a PCSO has had in the area.
Wendy agrees: “I’ve always said we’re the clever ones. “We can only discuss our way out of a situation, we’ve no cuffs, or batons – we have to be able to chat our way through problems.
“And it’s a community job, I felt a little like the community was getting lost on people, so this was a job where I could make that difference.
“Rural areas were being dealt with in the same way as the towns and they’re completely different, I felt this was something I could get across.”
One of the Neighbourhood Action Groups that Wendy organised was the only group in the country that listed rural crime as a priority.
A keen horse rider herself, Wendy gave rural issues this attention, emphasising the need to mark and track farm machinery and even patrolling the sheep.
For these reasons, she has played a key role in the organisation of Horsewatch, and the UK Horsewatch alliance, who work to combat equestrian crime; a role in which Wendy plans to continue working after she retires.
“If you put the value of all tack (saddles and horse equipment) into diamonds, it would be seen as a crimewave.”
In addressing calls to fix problems caused by wayward youngsters in Winslow, Wendy decided to give children in the area an answer when she was told, “but there’s nothing to do.”
“We were very aware of anti-social behaviour, and it stems from kids complaining they have nothing to do.
“So we gave them something to do.”
Winslow’s PCSO arranged a showcase of everything on offer to children and young adults, bringing 43 services, charities and groups together and offering everything from music, arts, mechanics and bell-ringing - by far the most popular activity.
“It meant that whenever someone told me that they were bored and there was nothing to do, I had something to show them and there would be no complaints.”
For Wendy, retirement does not mean slowing down and she’ll continue in her capacity as a parish councillor in Soulbury, volunteering with the policing team to continue her work with Horsewatch, and sharing her passion for travel in Africa with local groups.
Rupee will also be keeping busy, hopefully as the star of a children’s book which Wendy hopes could be used to educate little ones about the responsibilities of rural life.
Wendy’s ten years will be remembered as a jam-packed and highly effective tenure.
She said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time with Thames Valley Police and I have met, and worked with, some lovely people,and made some lovely friends.
“It’s been an interesting job.”