Sidmouth College head boy turned police sergeant recognised for innovative thinking on Portsmouth beat

Sergeant Richard Holland receives his commendation from Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney.
It reads:

Sergeant Richard Holland receives his commendation from Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney. It reads: "For outstanding dedication, positive leadership, resilience and innovation on one of the most challenging neighbourhoods in Hampshire Constabulary during a period of unprecedented change and demand." - Credit: Archant

A former Sidmouth College head boy has been recognised for his innovative approach to getting police back on the beat in Portsmouth.

It was a ‘baptism of fire’ when Sergeant Richard Holland was moved from leafy rural Hampshire to the city centre, faced with its issues of anti-social behaviour, drug-related violence and hate crime.

He was given the chance to trial a new scheme using civilian investigators to enable his warranted constables and PCSOs to deliver a visible police presence.

“I used to be in Bishop’s Waltham, which is quite Devon-like,” said the 38-year-old.

“I had a very rural beat. It was low crime, high expectation. Moving to Portsmouth was a bit of a baptism of fire but I absolutely loved it.

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“Crime was all over the place, and top of the force for a lot of different categories. I was given the leeway to do something different and got to do a six-month trial. It resulted in a reduction in drug crimes, antisocial behaviour and child exploitation.

“The chief constable was really happy – it was how a beat team should work. Sadly it’s not being rolled out.

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“It’s the same in Devon and Cornwall, there aren’t enough officers to sustain it. If Portsmouth had it, all the other parts of the force would want it too.

“If there was more money it could continue. The challenge now is finding cost-effective ways to keep the practices going now the trial is over.”

As well as being head boy, like his father Bernard before him, Richard played for Sidmouth’s football and rugby clubs while he grew up in Peaslands Road.

“When I came out of uni in 2001 I’d never thought about policing in my life,” he said. “There weren’t any jobs in Devon and Cornwall but my girlfriend was studying in Winchester so I moved to Hampshire.”

He has now been married to Clare for 12 years. They have two sons, Tobias, seven and four-year-old Joseph.

Richard, whose next post will be as custody sergeant in Southampton, added: “The award had my name on it but it was for my team. It needed their attitude and the long hours they put in to make it work.

“For my family it’s nice recognition of the sacrifices I had to make. I was working 15-, 16-, 17-hour days so I couldn’t always be home to read bedtime stories.”

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