Pc Hywel Griffiths' new direction after Parkinson's

Image caption Pc Hywel Griffiths was a dog handler when he was told he had Parkinson's

Pc Hywel Griffiths, 44, of Gwent Police, contacted the BBC Wales News website after reading our story that almost one in 10 police officers in Wales was on sick leave or carrying out limited duties.

Pc Griffiths, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 12 years ago, says being unable to perform full duties does not stop an officer from fully contributing.

"I was 32 when I was told I had Parkinson's. I was an operational dog handler. I thought I just had a trapped nerve in my shoulder.

Basically I didn't know anything about it, I thought it was an old person's disease.

The most important thing that happened was that I had a Parkinson's nurse who told me you can let it ruin your life or use it as an opportunity.

I spent another six months as a dog handler but the driving was difficult so I asked to come off the dog section.

They put me on nights in Caerphilly on patrol duties and I said to the boss I don't think it's right because of my limp - I'll be walking up and down town and there could be a confrontational situation. I'd lost two or three stone [in weight].

They put me in the crime management unit in Caerphilly - before then I didn't know what a computer was.

I was quite philosophical. I didn't used to dwell on it, I just got on with it. It [Parkinson's] doesn't affect your mental ability.

In crime management, we were basically doing stats and plotting where crimes happened. We were integrating all sorts of different computer systems. It's intelligence-led policing - crime trends.

I've now studied through the Open University and gained a BSc general degree studying computing, two maths statistics courses and also got funding from the force and did social policy and criminology. Then I did a diploma in social policy and criminology.

I got involved in a major inquiry into distraction burglaries, Operation Scupper.

The DCI [detective chief inspector] at the time had a lot of faith in me.

We cleared up 100 distraction burglaries.

Image caption Pc Griffiths has worked on a number of high-profile murder cases

I've been on a couple of the big jobs now. I work alongside the major incident team at Ystrad Mynach. The force have been brilliant.

I've worked on the Tony Singh case [a 24-year-old father found dead at his flat in Newport - three men have been charged with his murder] and Nikitta Grender [the pregnant teenager from Newport whose body was found in her burning flat in Newport - a 26-year-old man has been charged with her murder].

People think Parkinson's is the end of you. It's not the end. Help is there, especially with disability discrimination now.

I don't expect it on a plate, I just expect equality of opportunity and the same chance as everybody else.

I just love what I'm doing - the office is bouncing, it's brilliant.

Parkinson's is a terrible thing but there's hope. I probably do more now and am more efficient than I was. You're only limited by your imagination."

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