Devon and Cornwall Police turns 50

As part of the 50th Anniversary of Devon and Cornwall Police, we are taking a look back at our heritage and reminiscing on policing through time. Here Pam Giles, the first female resident beat officer to ride a motorcycle, gives us an insight into her policing experience.

Pam joined Devon and Cornwall Police on September 1st 1975 and became the first female police officer to be integrated with the men’s sections on patrol in March 1976 following the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975.

Here Pam shares her anecdotes from life as a police officer:

“I lived and worked from Buckfastleigh, Devon, and was based at Plymouth throughout my probation period before becoming a resident police officer at Buckfastleigh.

“The first motorbike I rode was a Honda CB 250cc motorcycle complete with ‘Heartbeat’ gloves. I enjoyed what was in effect the lone side of the job covering my beat at Holne, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and South Dartmoor. This meant I could get to know the locals well on a one-to-one basis.

“I enjoyed the community side of the job and it wasn’t long before I received letters and notes through the station letterbox telling me who had committed burglaries and thefts. I soon became known as ‘PC Pam’, this was way before the days when officers were known by their first names and was quite frowned upon by senior officers.

“The world is a very different place now and one has to appreciate that in 1977 women in uniform working 24-hour shifts was a huge step forward, and for the policemen to accept, so there were difficult times during integration but from my point of view I was doing the job I wanted to do and so I just got on and did it, regardless.

“Communication on my motorcycle was through a ‘Heartbeat’ telephone which only really transmitted from Haytor. Policing really was by consent and on more than one occasion, like many other police officers working the country, I told suspects to go home and wait for me to come and see them.

“Additionally I recall handcuffing two men together one night around a lamppost whilst waiting for back up from Plymouth! Another night I recall finding a young abscondee from what used to be called a ‘remand home’, as I approached him he lunged at me with a knife. In court his defence was that a big black cat had pounced at him out of the dark and he was frightened, bearing in mind he was 5ft 9ins and I was 5ft 2ins and I was dressed in my regulation Mac which had silver buttons, and a white topped hat.

“I went on to become a detective, a cadet Training Instructor, a Special Operations Sgt, a Patrol Sgt at Dartmouth and a Patrol Inspector in Torquay, Paignton and Chudleigh as well as a Control Room Duty Officer.

“I was one of the very first police women to be integrated with the men’s sections on patrol in March 1976 following the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act. Prior to this, women had worked in their own department and had restricted times of working and only reported to the female Sergeants and Inspectors.

“Policing for women has changed drastically since the formation of Devon & Cornwall Police. It has been a long process which continues to this day but we now have women in all ranks and departments. It is fantastic to see female Chief Constables and now even the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.”

To celebrate the milestone, the Force is holding a series of celebratory activity throughout June to recognise the excellent work that has taken place over the past 50 years. Numerous events will be held throughout the month of June which include historic foot patrols across our counties, Open Days, of which the public will be able to attend, and the burial of a 50-year time capsule to be unearthed in June 2067. The list of events are outlined below.

The public can follow our events on the Force’s social media platforms; follow us on Facebook at Devon and Cornwall Police, on Twitter: @DC_Police and on Instagram follow @DC_Police.999.

Key dates for the public

Event: Historic police patrol with DCC Paul Netherton in historic Police uniform outside Exeter Cathedral.

When: 07/06/17

Where: Exeter Cathedral

Time: 2pm – 3pm

Event: Open Day 1 Exeter – There will be police assets, kit and equipment on display for the public to engage with.

There will also be cadets and specials in attendance to talk about joining.

Traffic cars and motorcycles stinger/ firearms and hopefully dogs (if they don’t get deployed) will also be there.

When: 10/06/17

Where: Exeter Bedford Square

Time: 12pm

Event: Open Day 2 Cornwall – There will be police assets, kit and equipment on display for the public to engage with.

There will also be cadets and specials in attendance to talk about joining.

Traffic cars and motorcycles stinger/ firearms and hopefully dogs (if they don’t get deployed) will also be there.

When: 17/06/17

Where: Cornwall Lemon Quay

Time: 12pm

Event: Open Day 3 Plymouth -There will be police assets, kit and equipment on display for the public to engage with.

There will also be cadets and specials in attendance to talk about joining.

Traffic cars and motorcycles stinger/ firearms and hopefully dogs (if they don’t get deployed) will also be there.

This will form part of Armed Forces Day.

When: 24/06/17

Where: Plymouth

Time: 12pm

Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News

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