“People’s attitudes changed entirely. Instead of writing tickets out, you are seen as someone who helps.”
- Credit: Nick Butcher
For nearly three decades he walked the streets of Beccles with his trusty notebook and pencil in hand.
Whether it was giving directions, helping those in need or writing out tickets, it was his job to bring the best of order to the market town.
And although Malcolm Brabbin might have given up his beat after 27 years, the former traffic warden and PCSO's desire to serve the community continues as he is hoping to return as a volunteer – once he's been vetted!
Mr Brabbin, 65, has been a familiar face to many in the Beccles, Barnby, Mutford and North Cove area as the longest serving member of staff at Beccles police station, but he nearly didn't even get the job.
'I wanted a job and it came through the job centre,' he said. 'I went for the interview and was the second choice, but the person who got it failed their medical.'
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For Mr Brabbin it was a lucky break and he never looked back – working as a traffic warden from September 1986, and then a PCSO from May 2006. In this time he gave out a total of 7,329 fixed penalty tickets for parking offences – equivalent to nearly £220,000 in today's fines.
'I kept a record. You had to keep a tally of tickets in case there was any comeback and I carried it on,' he said.
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In his years of patrolling the streets, Mr Brabbin said he had heard a wide range of excuses, but one particularly stood out.
'One particular person parked outside the bank in town and gave me the excuse that her husband was having a stroke at the bank.
'I asked if a doctor had been called, and she said 'no, I was getting some money out',' he said.
Mr Brabbin also enjoyed fun and games with fellow Beccles traffic warden Frank Marsh, as their matching beards and glasses led their sergeant to nickname them 'the terrible twins'.
In 2006 the job changed as they become PCSOs and Mr Brabbin, a grandfather of two, said he enjoyed this even more.
He said: 'People's attitudes changed entirely. Instead of writing tickets out, you are seen as someone who helps.'
He added: 'It was house-to-house inquiries regarding crimes, taking crime reports, reassurance and visits. It's a totally different ball game to parking issues.'
It was during this time that he helped to pioneer the town's Shop Watch scheme, among the town's businesses, and had one of his most famous moments – as he was spotted by the inspector driving a mobility scooter back to its owner.
Paying tribute to him, Sgt Kevin Howell said: 'Malcolm will be missed. He has a wealth of knowledge on all things to do with the community of Beccles and is someone that those younger in service could go to for advice and help.'
Although Mr Brabbin has retired, he is hoping to return as a volunteer with the Safer Neighbourhood Team, when he is not spending time in his allotment.
However, his start date as a volunteer will have to wait, as although he has undergone his interview, he now has to be vetted.
Sgt Howell said: 'More recently his work with residents and on the administration for the Safer Neighbourhood Team have been greatly appreciated – and we are delighted that he will be coming back as a volunteer to help out with office and computer work and, all being well, as a stand-in station clerk.'