A POLICE officer retires this week after three decades on the beat.

PC Ian Craggs followed in the footsteps of his father – a Durham Constabulary special for 30 years – when he signed up as a special himself in 1989 and patrolled the same Darlington streets.

He became a regular in 1991 and transferred to Bishop Auckland and has worked in response, CID and spent most of his career in Weardale.

He has been a rep for The Police Federation for 15 years, been named in the force’s WOW Awards and received two Chief Constable's commendations after rescuing a woman from a house fire and following a job during which he was shot at.

Explaining the firearms incident, in Bishop Auckland 25 years ago, PC Craggs said he and colleagues responded to reports of a man throwing items from a bedroom window, while a scared woman and children were trapped inside. When he got to the scene, the man started shooting at officers, who took shelter under the canopy of the front door.

With no option but to storm the house, the team broke the door down and helped the woman and children escape out of the back door before they were confronted with the gunman.

Instinctively, PC Craggs slammed the kitchen door on the man to protect the team and saved the day.

“There were no tasers, CS gas or stab vests then,” he joked. “But I have always loved helping people and trying to help out in the communities and making things better for the people that live there.”

PC Craggs plans to have the summer off and buy a boat before taking up a position with The Police Federation.

The 50-year-old said he would miss his colleagues the most.

“Durham Constabulary has been part of my life for as long as I can remember,” he said. “It really is a case of mixed feelings and until fairly recently I was not 100 per cent sure I was going to retire. I’m looking forward to a new beginning in a positive way but I’m going to miss the people, the routine and the stability.

“I’ve been getting busier and busier with the Federation over the last few years and I’m grateful to the chief for seeing it is a vital thing and allowing me to do what I need to do.”

PC Craggs’ colleagues have hinted they have some treats in store to mark his retirement although, as tradition dictates, he will be expected to provide his own cake.

And he has already had some visitors pop into the station to wish him well including residents Betty Wood and Joan Potts who have known PC Craggs for more than 20 years through their involvement with what is now known as the PACT team.

The ladies gifted PC Craggs with a bottle of whiskey and told him he is always welcome for a cuppa.

Inspector Ed Turner, of Barnard Castle and Crook Neighbourhood Policing Team, said PC Craggs is the “epitome of community policing” and he would be sorely missed.

“We will all be sad to see PC Craggs leave as he is a dedicated and integral part of the team but wish him all the luck in his new role,” he said. “I am sure it won’t be the last we will see of him.”