Meet Roy Williams - the man who has given 51 years to keeping Staffordshire safe
Main article content
The day Roy Williams first put on his Staffordshire Police uniform The Beatles topped the UK album charts with Abbey Road, and Scream And Scream Again starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Alfred Marks and Peter Cushing was enthralling cinema audiences.
It was January 5, 1970, and PC Roy Williams first took to the beat in the county. And 51 years and one month later he is still with the force, working with the corporate resource unit where he helps allocate funding to every daily facet of the force’s operation.
The 70-year-old spent just over 32 years as a police constable. He walked the first 18 months of his beat in Cannock, Hednesford and Rugeley and then “they like to move you around” before he leapt into corporate resourcing, and has plenty of happy memories.
During that time he has seen a lot change, and he is particularly fond of the 15 years in total he spent on horseback over two spells with the Mounted Branch, which was disbanded in 2000.
“The amount of information you used to get because people would approach you on the back of a horse. A lot of people were frightened of them and so respected them – and I include the officers in that,” he quipped. “They’d say ‘that’s a lovely animal’ and then start talking.
Roy after winning the Novice Rider award with Orry at the Staffordshire Police Horse Show at County Showground, Stafford around 1984. All photos are courtesy of Roy Williams.
“One big change has been with the role of women in policing. When I first started there was a separate Police Women’s Department and they only did Mondays to Fridays either 8am-to-4pm or 9am-to-5pm. We hardly ever saw our female colleagues.
“Of course, things are totally different now – there’s a lot more equality in terms of kit and roles.”
After dismounting the horses he spent two more years as a PC before retiring in 2002 to take up a role within a new idea.
“My last two years as a PC had been with the Divisional Co-ordinating Unit (DCU) in Stafford and then I retired in April 2002. The force were setting up a mobile custody unit where they’d converted two lorries to travel around where needed and they could be utilised both in the force and on loan to other forces.
“I’d been friends with Russ Cartledge who was a custody sergeant at the time and he told me about the new role so I interviewed and got it. I was very lucky. It was very, very good and I enjoyed it. There was a lot of ‘mutual aid’ work with other forces where I got to attend festivals and things.”
Roy ready for pre-season last summer at Molineux coaching Wolves Women
After his stint there, Roy was on the move again – going back to his old DCU role but this time employed as a civilian operator. In 2012 they amalgamated all the regional DCUs into one central hub at Staffordshire Police HQ on Weston Road in Stafford, which is where he still finds himself today.
But out of everything he has done, it’s that time with the Mounted Branch that brings the fondest recollections.
“I got paid to be with horses eight hours a day – it was absolutely amazing,” he adds. “I went all around the country to compete at different shows and we used to host 12 forces at our own Staffordshire Police Horse Show at the County Ground in Stafford when that was still going.”
He picked up a couple of awards over the years including in the Novice Rider event atop Orry in Stafford, and the Best Turnout event with Snaefell at the Metropolitan Police’s equivalent show at Imber Court in Surrey.
“I also competed in the police classes at the Horse of the Year show and the Royal Tournament – although that was a bit more dressage with all the Armed Forces competing too.”
Roy, centre, on Snaefell talking to youngsters on patrol with a colleague in the late 1990s
The unit also led to one of his proudest achievements.
“I became a trainer and assessor with the former Sergeant John Matthews, now retired, who I really got on with. There were only 12 in the whole country and we had two of them.
“We travelled around the country assessing other forces’ students and they’d turn out their horses and kit, take a written exam, a riding test and then take part in a Q&A.”
Roy has kept it in the family too as his daughter, Hannah, is also with the force working in the Tactical Planning Unit.
She used to play for the Wolves Women’s Football Team and in a role reversal he followed her there to help with coaching – and is still there 20 years later working on their fitness.
Roy on Snaefell competing in the tent pegging event at a S.P.A.C.E Day event at County Showground, Stafford around 1997
They currently play in Tier 4 of the women’s game but it looks likely their second successive promotion push may be curtailed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic after they won all six of this season’s opening fixtures before the latest stoppage in games.
“It’s so much better now because the chairman Jeff Shi has brought us into the Compton training facilities with the men’s teams so we have access to all the better facilities,” Roy adds.
“We play at Castlecroft where their Under-23s play and he even came to see us there when we beat Wem Town Ladies 6-0. I hope he keeps the faith in us.”
And speaking to those out there who may be considering a career with Staffordshire Police themselves, Roy was keen to get them out on the beat.
“It’s a great job, even if it can be more difficult and demanding now,” he added. “You’ve got to be prepared to work 24/7 and expect the unexpected. And I’ve loved passing on my knowledge to Hannah during her time with the force.
Roy, back row, centre, on Orry with the rest of Staffordshire Police's Mounted Branch in the late 1980s
“There’s very tough moments such as informing families about a death but it’s so rewarding to know you’ve helped your community every single day in your job. It’s definitely rewarding – there’s no two ways about it.
“I’d recommend anyone to join.”
Roy receiving his award as the novice rider winner but this time on Viking for presentation purposes at Stafford's County Showground around 1984