Retired Beccles PC looks back on his 29 years of policing
- Credit: Nick Butcher
His career saw him police the London 2012 Olympics, help protect world leaders at the Dublin G8 summit and join in the search for murdered five-year-old April Jones.
But for newly-retired PC Stirling Parsk, Beccles was always his priority.
He spent 29 years in the police force, starting his career in Lowestoft before his first spell in Beccles. He then moved to Halesworth before coming back to Beccles, where he spent 20 years making the town safer.
Working as a community police officer, Mr Parsk was responsible for addressing the community’s issues within the town, and was a familiar face at local schools, councils and businesses.
“I think it’s what I was most suited to do,” said Mr Parsk, 55. “I like to think I came across as approachable and got on with people and took up their problems.”
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In his nearly three decades in the police force, Mr Parsk attended countless accidents, crashes, fights and burglaries. But one time that particularly stands out was when Julian Assange took up residence at Ellingham Hall.
The WikiLeaks founder had to report to Beccles police station every day, and Mr Parsk said: “It was a crazy time for Beccles, with all the attention it brought.”
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But despite the high-profile cases he has worked on, which also include the Ipswich prostitute murders in 2006, Mr Parsk said he never lost sight of what was important to the people of Beccles.
“There are always small issues within the town which are big issues for those involved,” he said.
“They might be small things to somebody else, but not to the victim, and what I tried to do was help as much as I could to sort it out.”
He qualified as a search officer in 2000, which saw him train in areas including counter terrorism, royal visits and protecting high profile targets.
His specialist skills were often required by forces across the country, but he had one particularly special responsibility in Beccles.
He organises the annual police variety show for the town’s senior citizens - a show unique to Beccles which will take place next weekend.
Mr Parsk said: “One of my predecessors developed the idea of the show when we were doing our day to day work and came across some senior citizens who would never leave their home.
“The only contact they would have with the police was when there had been a crime or a problem, and it was a stressful situation.
“The idea of the performance was to show the police in a different light, and give the senior citizens a chance to enjoy themselves.”
But with the widely-publicised policing cutbacks, Mr Parsk said he felt the kind of policing he did, where officers were a well-recognised face in the community, is in decline.
“You can’t do more with less,” he said. “I think the emphasis on community policing is changing because there are so many other demands now that I feel tend to get priority.
“Things like social media have brought a whole new style of crime and a new style of policing. The role of a police officer is changing.
“But the public will always want to see a uniformed officer on the streets. It’s just reassurance that someone is there.
“But I’m very proud of Beccles and thankful for the reaction I’ve had since I’ve retired.
“I don’t think you tend to realise what a difference you make to people.”