PC Ian Atyeo - his life on the beat

Decorated officer leaves his post as Neighbourhood Beat Manager at the end of the month. The Midweek Herald looks back at his career.

AFTER more than 24 years in the police service, Honiton’s best-known bobby on the beat is leaving the job – a victim of Government spending cuts.

Neighbourhood Beat Manager Ian Atyeo is just 51 and, until recently, fully expected to remain a police officer until he was at least 55.

He will leave his post at the end of the month, having served the community in Honiton for 21 years.

“I didn’t want to leave the job,” he admits. “My arm has been forced because of the spending cuts, which is affecting every force and not just Devon and Cornwall.

“The Chief Constable does not want to lose staff, but tough decisions have to be made.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my 24-and-a-half years as a police officer.”

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He added: “I have deep regrets about having to leave, but an opportunity came along and I grabbed it with both hands.”

From next month, PC Atyeo will start life in ‘civvy street’. He is to take on a civilian role in logistics at the police headquarters in Middlemoor, Exeter.

He strongly suspects he will have less time to enjoy a round of golf, but hopes to keep up his role as referee of the five-a-side football league at Honiton Sports Centre.

Policing is in PC Atyeo’s blood. He has happy memories of his late father going on patrol as a Special Constable in Wellington.

But, policing is, in fact, PC Ateyo’s second career.

He left school at 16 and joined the Royal Navy, serving aboard aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and later Type 21 frigates, seeing action during the Falklands conflict.

Following the birth of his daughter, he decided he wanted to spend more time with his family and left the armed forces after 11 years.

He joined the police service in October 1986 and has witnessed huge changes to the uniform, safety equipment and legislation.

“The equipment has improved immensely,” PC Atyeo said.

“The cars we drive now are so much better than they were.

“They didn’t have computers when I joined.”

One of the biggest changes to local policing has been the introduction of Police Community Support Officers. Honiton was one of two towns to trial the initiative and, in the beginning, had 10 PCSOs. That number has now been reduced to four.

“When it was first mooted, we were all up in arms,” he said.

“People in Honiton had never seen so many uniforms.