Pencaitland | Police

There was a police house in the village occupied by the local constable and his family; it had an added room, which served as a miniature police station. The local village policeman was always on the spot and was aware of everything that was going on. He dealt with the usual police duties ranging from petty theft to supervising the disposal of cases of anthrax in cattle. He was also a good community policeman, taking part and helping in various social events held in the village.

By the end of the period, times had changed. Some years ago (1971) the police station was closed; for a short period a room was retained as a holding room where prisoners were held until they could be transferred to a police station in Tranent or Haddington. Policing post-1971 took the local policeman away to be deployed elsewhere; he was replaced by a police car which occasionally undertook a quick patrol through the village. Sometimes they parked in a conspicuous place near the garage when groups of teenagers were excessively noisy; of course they cleared out of the way when the police car arrived. There were infrequent visits by a community policeman, whose duties, however, covered a very wide area, almost reaching the English border.

Police finances were very stretched, which is no doubt the reason for the change in methods of policing, but it cannot be said that it satisfactorily replaced the ‘on the spot’ village bobby. There were, however, two special constables – auxiliaries – who were called when required.

There has been an apparent increase in crime in later years of the period, mainly house breaking and vandalism.

Ex-bobby Joe Rowan shares just one of his experiences with the local poachers in the 1960s

One weekend the local bobby was informed that poachers were intending to poach sea trout on a local river by unlawful means, (explosives and nets). A watch was set up by the police and eventually three men were seen to throw explosives into the river and after the explosion pull several fish from the water by means of nets. The men were arrested and the fish, nets and other equipment taken by the police as evidence.

As the police had no means of preserving the fish to retain them for production as evidence the only alternative was to sell them to a local fishmonger and retain the money received as evidence. A police report was submitted to the local procurator fiscal who decided not to take any proceedings against the poachers.

The outcome of the incident was that the money obtained from the sale of the fish was given to the owner of the stretch of the river from which the fish had been poached.

Unfortunately the nets and other equipment found in the poachers’ possession and taken by the police as evidence had been stored in an outhouse which suffered storm damage and was seriously damaged beyond repair.