North East Wales

Flintshire policeman back from year on St Helena island

James Bay, St Helena, with the RMS St Helena at anchor
Image caption Geraint Davies described the island of St Helena as "stunning"

A former North Wales Police sergeant is back home with his family after nearly a year on one of the world's most remote inhabited islands.

Geraint Davies, 49, of Milwr, Flintshire, has been helping develop the St Helena police force in the south Atlantic.

It is about 1,200 miles (1,930km) from land and can take more than a week to reach from the UK.

He said being away from family was "harder than I expected".

He beat 37 other applicants and his main task was to train 13 officers under his command.

Mr Davies, who arrived back home in time for Christmas, said: "I would like to think I've left them in a stronger position.

"Before I left, I helped run an investigation course into child protection. The students were police officers and social workers.

"And the last thing I did was to put in place multi-agency public protection arrangements.

"I developed a 40-page document which should hopefully be their bible for public protection procedures."

About 4,000 people live on St Helena, and native islanders are known as "Saints".

Image caption Mr Davies' vehicle on the island has clocked up nearly 500,000km (310,000 miles)

Before he left, the former North Wales Police Officer was told St Helena was "like a British town 50 years ago".

He said it was nice go go back to community policing

"But they are really struggling there with resources, and there's a high expectation for the police to be the saviours of everything.

"They have responsibility for everything really. On patrols at night, the police were checking street lights, making sure they were working.

"As much as it's nice to go back in time like that, it can also be quite frustrating."

He said: "The high point was when the family came out to see me. That, along with the beauty of the island. It's renowned for its beauty and it really was stunning.

Image caption The experience gave his daughters a "totally different outlook," Mr Davies said

"If anybody has an opportunity to visit, just go. I don't believe anybody would regret going there.

"Even the journey there is an adventure of its own."

His wife, Jacquie, and their daughters Rebecca, 17 and Erin, 12, visited him in July.

The couple renewed their wedding vows in the home of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled there after losing at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was buried on the island before his remains were returned to France.

Erin stayed on the island with her father for the last few months of his placement, which he said was a "marvellous experience for her".

"Both Erin and Rebecca have been given a totally different outlook after their experiences there.

Image caption Mr Davies is relaxing at home for Christmas before deciding his next career move

"It's taught both of them that they can go anywhere and do anything they want."

There were more than a few reminders of home.

Mr Davies said: "One of the nicest things I experienced was when the Queen Mary cruise ship came into the bay and I was on a day off.

"I was walking along the wharf and I saw a couple talking to the police inspector. They were a Welsh couple, from Swansea.

"They had heard a BBC report about me taking the job and they decided to track me down when the ship docked in St Helena.

"I ended up taking them on a tour of the island.

"It turns out that while I was showing them around, another two Welsh people had tried getting hold of me as well.

"Another time, there was a guy from Ireland who had seen the BBC website piece and wrote a letter wishing me and my family well, and saying how he admired me."

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