The clock cannot be turned back to old days

Shooting on Spital Hill in Sheffield.
Shooting on Spital Hill in Sheffield.
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I was saddened to read in the Star about the problems in the Spital Hill and parts of Burngreave in Sheffield. Plus the article by your reporter Robert Cumber with comments by the Local Councillor Coun Jackie Drayton in Monday’s Star, (June 26).

I was saddened because I was a policeman in Sheffield from 1958 to 1988. But from 1968 to 1976 I was the community policeman covering the area in question including Spital Hill, up Burngreave Road to the Toll bar and back via Pye Bank etc.

I patrolled on foot, mostly by myself but supported where necessary by officers in ‘panda cars’ and detectives from CID.

My shifts extended between 8am – 2am. There were no ‘no-go’ areas, and I spoke to everyone from all walks of life.

Obviously there were some problems which we tried to resolve peacefully, and occasionally arrests were made.

Just as now, tackling some of the issues needed more than just a policeman’s responsibilities and perspective, and I was helped immensely by local residents including Howard Knight, (who still lives in that area), Dr John Vincent, and the late Francis Butler, and many more. I found most people wanted to help wherever they could.

So some things are constant and some things change. I believe my service bears no similarity to the demands made on officers today. I have every respect for the police officers of all disciplines who use skill and bravery do what is required today to serve the communities. I was one of the last ‘bobbies on the beat’.

Although many people call for the ‘old days’ back, I realise – as an old man – the clock cannot be turned back, and challenges must be met with resources available! Spital Hill, as most areas, will be policed, but it is ‘the community’ who will be the main motivators for change as always.

So, 40 years on… with a tear in my eye.

Bill Ward

Retired Policeman, S13