Growing up on a diet of cop dramas like The Bill, Adam Colton always dreamed of becoming a police constable.
Yesterday (Wednesday) this dream finally became reality when the 28-year-old Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) was formally sworn in as a full police constable at Northamptonshire Police Headquarters at Wooton Hall, Northampton.
Adam has been the face of local policing on the Grange and Southbrook housing estates in Daventry for the better part of a decade – and even as he prepares to take on his new assignment as a beat bobby at Daventry’s police station he looks back fondly on memories of his first days as the Grange’s new PCSO. He said: “I can remember my first day on the job going out on my own.
“I saw the promotion of it at the time and the idea of helping a community really excited me.”
The son of an NHS worker and engineer, Adam went to Thomas Becket Catholic School in Northampton and then worked at Morrison’s supermarket before joining Northamptonshire Police in 2006. He is marrying his fiancée Jamie in September.
He said: “Joining the police was always something I wanted to do. It was always something that interested me.
“I found it nerve-racking at first. I didn’t even know how to get to Daventry. I had trouble explaining to people what I could do and what I could not. A lot of people didn’t understand what PCSO could do, it’s different now.” Since their introduction in 2002 by Home Secretary David Blunkett as an alternative to regular officers, PCSOs elicited a lukewarm response from the Police Federation and from the general public.
But while they lack many powers held by full officers – including the right to make arrests or deprive suspects of their liberty – PCSOs are the face of local policing for many communities and provide operational support to regular officers with their local knowledge and good community contacts.
PCSOs are distinct from special constables, who are unpaid but have the full range of a powers available to regular constables.
Adam said: “We are a focal point for the local community. I am the person they come to talk to.
“The role involves a variety of things from working with local community associations to working with young people, schools and nurseries.”
But despite this, Adam said PCSOs aren’t afraid to get stuck in to more regular policing when required – as highlighted by him receiving a letter of commendation after intervening in a domestic dispute.
Adam has also played a key role at a local level in police crackdown on drugs in the town as part of Operation Witch, as well as working with local schools raising awareness about Daventry’s drug issue.
He said: “There was a high risk domestic incident when I was working on my estate and came round the corner to find a male wanted for the incident.
“I could see the female party to the incident and the man was approaching her in an aggressive manner, so I intervened and put myself in harm’s way. I had to get physical with him.”
Adam said he decided to take a step up to the role of full constable because he wanted to continue give something back to the community.
He said: “A lot of people are just happy to be a PCSO but they don’t want to be a police officer. It is a good introduction into the police world but this is a different role.”
District sergeant Sam Dobbs said out of all the candidates Adam was the stand-out choice. He said: “He has intelligence and a natural way of dealing with people and establishing a rapport with people. He has a good investigative mind.”
Adam swapped his blue tie and epaulettes for black at the ceremony, attended by his parents and fiancé as well as Sgt Dobbs.
“My family are very proud and they have always been supportive of my work as a PCSO,” he said.
PCSO Kirsten Bates will now be taking over responsibility for the Southbrook.
Adam said: “I am really pleased I got to nominate her. I was very keen she took over the area as she is the most suitable PCSO to work on the estate.”
Northamptonshire Police are no longer recruiting PCSOs. However, people interested in becoming a Special Constable can visit northantspolicespecials.co.uk.