University PC bids farewell after 22 years on the beat
An experienced and well-respected officer bids farewell to Hertfordshire Constabulary this week after 22 years’ service.
PC Eddie Courts has been working in the University Policing Team at The University of Hertfordshire for the past 5 years and leaves the university with one of the lowest crime rates in the country, to join its bus service, Uno.
Eddie joined Hertfordshire Constabulary in 1991, and has spent most of his career working in Welwyn Hatfield in many different roles including responding to emergency calls with Intervention. He spent seven years in Potters Bar working on the Safer Neighbourhood Team and then training and assessing new student officers.
In December 2008, Eddie returned to Hatfield Safer Neighbourhood Team and took up the unique role of PC at The University of Hertfordshire.
The team consists of three officers, a PC and two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), who are dedicated to dealing with policing issues relating to the university and its 27,200 students. This includes crime and anti-social behaviour both on campus and in student accommodation in Hatfield.
Speaking about the role, Eddie said: "I was looking to do something different and have a new challenge and this was a unique role. There's no other job in the force like it so I thought I would give it a go.
"The role involves being a conduit between the two organisations, ensuring that enquiries are dealt with quickly and ensuring information flow with the university about crimes and other issues so they can take disciplinary action where possible. We also work hard to educate students about ensuring they keep themselves and their belongings safe. It's a fact that student accommodation is often an easy target for criminals to steal so education is vital."
Crime has drastically reduced over the period of time Eddie has worked with the university. In one year alone, crime rates fell 67% and it now stands as having has the lowest crime rate amongst universities in the East of England on and around its campus, according to the authoritative and independent Complete University Guide.
Eddie added: "I do feel like I am leaving the university in a good place. Even noise nuisance reports have fallen greatly which is down to working closely with the university to reduce it over the years and I know this has been appreciated by local residents.
"It has been such a positive experience in so many ways and I have enjoyed it. Looking back, I will always have fond memories of the university. I'd like to thank the staff and students for their support. The reception I've had has always been so positive. The one thing I will take away is the memory of young people's positive attitudes and their support for what we are trying to achieve. It has been heartening and has made my job easier."
Looking to the future, Eddie will still be close to the university taking up the role of a bus driver for Uno, a role which he sees as an opportunity to still interact with the public, but a little less stressful.
Eddie added: "I enjoy getting out and about, meeting people and I love driving so this seemed like the perfect role for me, and I will still retain my link with the university, which is great. I wish Joe every luck with the role in the future and I'll still be close to the university should he need any support in the future."
Eddie hands over the reins to PC Joe Clapham who brings 27 years policing experience to the role, having worked with the RAF Police, involving tour of duty in the Falkland Islands, and closer to home, working on the Safer Neighbourhood Teams in both North Herts and Welwyn Hatfield.
Joe said: "I am pleased to be taking this role, as it was something I had expressed an interest in doing. I'm looking forward to carrying on the good work Eddie has achieved over the past five years and forging new relationships with the University."
Chief Inspector for Welwyn Hatfield, Jo Walker said: "Eddie has done a fantastic job at the university over the past five years and has been at the forefront of Op Balsam, a local initiative to drive down crime in and around the university.
"I worked with Eddie in 1991 when he joined at the original Hatfield Police Station where we were PCs together. He has always been a very likeable and unflappable character and he will be greatly missed by colleagues across the force. I wish him a happy and healthy retirement and I know that Joe will continue with the great working partnership that Eddie has formed."
Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire, said: "It's Eddie's hard work and determination over the last 5 years that has helped the University and local community work together to be the safest university campus in the East of England. Eddie has been an integral part of the University and will be missed by staff and students. We are very pleased Eddie has chosen to move to Uno and wish him the best of luck in his retirement."