Time to leave the beat for long-serving PC Dave

PC Dave Wallace taking it easy before his retirement. Ref shs 6389-18-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

PC Dave Wallace taking it easy before his retirement. Ref shs 6389-18-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A familiar face on the Sidmouth beat for the past 16 years has retired from the force, saying: “I don’t want to leave my mates, but it’s time for a change.”

PC Dave Wallace came to the town in 1999, back when the station ‘looked like something out of Heartbeat’, and soon found his feet.

He has gained a reputation for community policing and helped put in the legwork that led to some high-profile arrests.

“Everyone says ‘sleepy Sidmouth’, but it’s not really – plenty of things happen here,” said the 49-year-old.

“It’s only when you do a job like ours that you see all the things that go on, even though it’s still a nice town. There’s enough work for us!”

He may not have always made the final arrest, but he put in the groundwork. Dave followed his nose and helped picked up the scent of a serial burglar – his ‘nemesis’ – who had repeatedly targeted Sidmouth.

He also recognised the modus operandi of a notorious gang hitting cars in beauty spots in the Sid Valley and many other South West towns.

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“I’ve got to know people,” he said. “If something happens, I can find out ways of getting to the bottom of it – not all the time, but some of the time.”

It hasn’t all been glory. Dave’s time in the town has also seen serious assaults and a murder, and he was the only officer at the scene when three people missing from a mental health facility fell to their deaths off Salcombe Hill cliff.

But he has been supported by colleagues who soon became his friends, and said: “The pros are working with people who you trust. They make everything worthwhile.”

He had been planning to retire after the summer, but after a chat with his wife, Nicky, he realised it was time for a change – and filled out his retirement form that evening. He plans to spend more time with her and his four-year-old son, Ted. Dave’s 27 years on the force are now over – his time in the Navy counted towards his 30 years’ service.

“It’s going to be really strange,” said the Salcombe Road resident. “It’s come very quickly. It’s a long time of your life.”

Dave’s retirement follows that of Jim Tyrrell last month, but reinforcements are on their way - Sidmouth will soon gain two new officers.