"Sheriff of Leyland" Tony marks 20 years patrolling the town's streets as one of the first ever PCSOs

Lancashire's oldest serving PCSO is still going strong at the age of 72.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 5th August 2022, 4:55 am

Tony Wojnarowski - who is known throughout Leyland as "PC Tony" - was among the first intake of Police and Community Support Officers when the role was created 20 years ago, says he's never looked back having made a career change in his 50s.

He said: "It's a great job.

"Leyland's a brilliant place and the people I've worked with and talked to have always been really friendly."

Tony Wojnarowski is the oldest PCSO in Lancashire. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

How did he get into the job?

The father-of-three has a background in engineering and worked his way up from apprentice to area production manager at Leyland Motors before being made redundant.

He was then made redundant a further three times before deciding "it's time for a change".

A self-confessed people person with experience of dealing with staff and unions as well as more than 40 years experience as a Scout leader, he made the cut and was given his uniform.

Tony Wojnarowski is the oldest PCSO in Lancashire. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

He said: "I took a massive wage cut, but my quality of life improved massively."

What’s it like?

He said: "At that time it was a brand new role. We had a lot of training, but people still didn't really know what we did - members of the public and even some officers in the constabulary.

"We had to break down a lot of barriers and the job has totally evolved.

Tony Wojnarowski is the oldest PCSO in Lancashire. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

"At first we were all on foot patrol, we dealt with ASB (anti social behaviour), reassurance and intelligence gathering.

"Now my area is half the size of Leyland and it would take me most of the day to cover it on foot.

"We've been given extra powers, but still can't arrest, and we don't carry appointments (truncheon, handcuffs)."

Tony works three days a week on shifts that can include Friday and Saturday nights.

He said: "Being 72 and doing those kind of shifts doesn't phase me.

"It's no bother and as long as I have my health, I'll carry on. If I didn't love the job, I'd have retired years ago."

Tony says it's the people he comes into contact with who make the job special - his colleagues and members of the public.

"PC Tony”

He said: "I've been doing this job that long that people know me all over Leyland as PC Tony.

"We do a lot of work with schools, building up a relationship and trust, and it's funny when kids I saw 18 or 19 years ago come up to me, calling me PC Tony and introducing me to their own children."

He added: "One or two of the people who have started more recently as PCSOs and who have gone onto become police officers remember me telling them off as kids in Worden Park. And one lady contacted me on Facebook to say that her son who I'd given a good talking to years ago was now a very successful lawyer in London.

"So there's a lot of job satisfaction, but it takes time.

"It's a great job for anyone, but you're not going to get success in five minutes, it takes time to build up trust and relationships."

Extra string to his bow

Tony said the job is "different every day" – and includes going out to suspicious circumstances and helping at major incidents - but he has an extra sting to his bow which takes him to different locations and areas of the job - his Polish mother tongue.

Born to Polish parents who emigrated to Britain after the Second World War, Tony grew up in Avenham and then in Fulwood speaking Polish.

He said: "When I went to primary school I spoke very little English, not that you'd know now, with my accent!

"But it means I come in handy when there's cases involving the Polish community in Lancashire.

"There might be a lorry driver who says he can't speak English. When I turn up speaking his language, he thinks 'Oh heck, I'm in trouble now!'"

Tony was also involved in community reassurance and easing commununity tensions after a murder in Skelmersdale by a Polish offender, and attended Crown Court to help with witness liason."

Even though he insists hes "just a normal fella", he was given the moniker as the "Sheriff of Leyland" by the Divisional Commander at a commendation ceremony last year where he was recognised for giving CPR to a man in Leyland.

What are PCSOs?

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) work with police officers and share some, but not all of their powers.

A PCSO can, for example:

-give someone a fixed-penalty notice, eg for littering

-demand the name and address of someone being anti-social

-take alcohol off a person aged under 18

- Assist officers at a crime scene

- Prevent speeding outside schools

-A PCSO can also ask a police officer to arrest a person.

The power of PCSOs can differ between police forces and they must wear a uniform clearly marked ‘PCSO’.

In Lancashire

In Lancashire, a starting salary for a full time PCSO is £21,702 rising to £26,690.08 inclusive of allowances.

Lancashire Constabulary offers support for underrepresented groups (black and minority ethnicities) by providing advice and guidance before and during the selection process.

You need to be at least 18 years old to apply, but there is no upper age limit.

To find out more about the role and whether applications are being taken, contact the force by emailing: [email protected]