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Suffolk Constabulary celebrates 50 years

Suffolk Police hosted a special event yesterday, Sunday 2 April, to celebrate 50 years since three borough police forces amalgamated to form the Constabulary.

On 1 April 1967, East Suffolk Police, West Suffolk Constabulary and Ipswich Borough Police merged. Headquarters were initially based at County Hall in Ipswich, until 1976 when the Constabulary moved its centre of operations to Martlesham.

Visitors to the event included retired and serving police and specials officers, along with their families and friends, members from the police cadets and public service students. The High Sheriff of Suffolk, William Kendall, Lady Clare Euston and a number of other dignitaries were also in attendance.

Sirens blared and blue lights flashed as children clambered into police cars and sat on police motorbikes. Vintage police vehicles were also on display.

Inside, attractions were predominantly interactive. Visitors were able to dress up in uniforms, past and present, and wear beer goggles to experience how reactions deteriorate while under the influence of alcohol. Budding crime scene investigators solved crime scenes before being fingerprinted, and there were exercises to test responses to genuine 999 calls.

The Constabulary Museum, dedicated to police memorabilia and usually accessible by appointment-only, was open to walk through. Exhibits included uniforms through the ages, truncheons, seized weapons, handcuffs, medals, crime-recording equipment and photographs dating as far back as 1850.

Visitors to the event were also treated with intermittent performances from the Suffolk Constabulary Male Voice Choir, whose members include all ranks of serving and retired Police Officers, police-employed personnel and friends of the Constabulary.

Refreshments were available by donation in the canteen, with tea and coffee kindly supplied by the East of England Co-op and its Co-op Cuppa initiative. A hamper of local food and drink was also contributed by the retailer as a raffle prize.

Money raised will be donated to both the Constabulary’s museum to help maintain its upkeep, and the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) charity, dedicated to help surviving families rebuild their lives after the death of a police officer on duty.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said: “It was a fantastic day and gave former employees the opportunity to reminisce, see how the building has changed and meet with old friends and colleagues. It was great to see both children and adults getting so involved with our activities and offer them the chance to experience life behind the badge.

“We are immensely proud of our policing history. There have been so many changes over the last 50 years; the law, communication methods, DNA profiling, CCTV, social media, and the evolution of crime. The museum serves as an important reminder of how far we have come.”

A separate ceremony was also held yesterday, recognising the dedication of current and retired police and specials officers, as well as commemorating the lives of former officers and staff.

The welcome to the ceremony was led by Chief Constable Gareth Wilson and Police Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and an official 2ft x 2ft cake, made by a member of staff, was cut as part of the celebrations.

A wreath was laid by Assistant Chief Constable, Rachel Kearton, to pay respects to departed officers and police employees.

ACC Kearton added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came together to make this day such a success. Thank you to those who assisted in the planning of the event, those who volunteered their time and to all our guests who made this a truly memorable and happy day.”

Police Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “It was lovely to see staff and officers, old and new, coming together to celebrate 50 years of Suffolk Constabulary.

“Policing has changed so much since the three county forces amalgamated back in 1967 and today served as a timely reminder of just how far Suffolk police has come in the past half century. I hope everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed the day, we should all be immensely proud of our Constabulary.”

Suffolk’s policing history

April 1967 – East Suffolk Police, West Suffolk Constabulary and Ipswich Borough Police amalgamated to form Suffolk Constabulary. The Chief Constable of East Suffolk, Peter Matthews, was appointed Chief Constable of the new force.

April 1968 – The Suffolk Constabulary Male Voice Choir formed.

1975 – The Sex Discrimination Act came into effect, formally integrating female police officers with their male counterparts.

Summer 1976 – Suffolk Constabulary headquarters opened in Martlesham

May 1977 – His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, officially opened the new Headquarters in Martlesham.

1986 – The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) came into effect, which meant that the arrest and processing of offenders was codified for the first time and written in law. This introduced a maximum time limit a person could be detained by police without charge.

1986 – The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was introduced, which meant that a Police Inspector no longer acted as a prosecuting officer. Instead, the new Crown Prosecutors determined the charge in all but minor cases and prepared these for court.

1993-95 – The use of DNA profiling and subsequent setting up of the national database significantly changed the way offenders were detected from forensic evidence.

21st century – The huge amount of digital technology now owned and used by members of the public has led to a significant increase in demand for police service. Police often receive multiple reports of the same incident, as most people now own a mobile phone; the subject of crime has evolved – theft and robbery of phones and tablets; and the method of crime has progressed to many incidents happening behind closed doors, including identity and monetary fraud, and child exploitation.

July 2011 – Three Police Investigation Centres (PIC) opened in Martlesham, Bury St Edmunds and Great Yarmouth.

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