On the beat with Beer and Branscombe police
- Credit: Archant
Beer and Branscombe’s best-known police officer wanted to dispel misconceptions about his role – so detained a Herald reporter to clear things up.
PC Steve Speariett takes to the beat for the Friday night shift, bearing his standard load of stab - and bullet-proof vest, radio, handcuffs, CS spray, baton and a torch – kit that weighs around a stone.
I join him in the squad car and we head off onto his patch, which covers the towns and villages surrounding Seaton – an area that has been his for 10 years this month.
“A lot of people don’t see what we do,” said PC Speariett. “I want to give you a bit of an insight.”
A call comes in to check out some youths in their vehicles in the car park at Tesco, but he knows there is nothing to worry about.
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“People’s perceptions are too often based on what they see on television,” said PC Speariett.
“They see youngsters acting out a bit and think they’re in a gang, but testing boundaries is just part of growing up.”
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We pull up next to a group of lads, who are doing no more than chatting through the windows on their parked cars.
I was surprised to see them so co-operative – far from making mischief, they were actively pointing out potential trouble-makers to watch out for.
Developing relationships starts at an early age for police officers in East Devon.
They are required to take part in ‘red time’, high visibility sessions during low crime times that see them on rotation at the different schools on their beat.
PC Speariett said: “I was meeting pupils at Farway Primary and we ended up playing bulldogs – it’s all about building trust from an early age.”
Seeing him walk through Beer wishing people a good evening and making jokes with all ages proved his work was going to plan.
We move on to the beer festival at the Fountain Head in Branscombe, and again there’s no sign of an incident.
PC Speariett’s familiarity with those attending means he can have a quiet word with anyone who he thinks might cause an issue, and his presence acts as a deterrent against any thoughts of drink-driving.
“That’s something that takes hours, but it’s not quantifiable,” he said.
The officer came to East Devon from Bristol, an area with a slightly higher crime rate.
He has stories of arresting murderers and foiling car thieves by diving through the window, but Seaton isn’t without its excitement.
He was once starting a shift when he heard a disturbance at a nearby property.
The father-of-three had happened upon a domestic argument between a man and a woman, one of whom was wielding a bread knife.
There were no such incidents – or even anything minor – in the few hours we were together, but that paid testament to the work PC Speariett does as a deterrent.