New job is like coming home for police chief Jeff Handley
FOR many it would be the high point of a distinguished career.
But for Jeff Handley it's just like coming home — and in more ways than one.
He is back in Neath two years after leaving it, having taken over as detective inspector for Neath, Port Talbot and parts of Swansea.
"Our Chief Constable (Peter Vaughan) is keen for us to understand our communities," said the 49-year-old, who was born in the Swansea Valley and was most recently DI for Morriston.
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"I really value the fact that I have spent the vast majority of my career in Neath Port Talbot.
"To come back to an area I know so well means I can not only deliver for local communities, but on a personal level. I live in this area, my family lives in this area, as do my friends. So it's in my interest to make sure this area is safe.
"I like to think residents value the fact they have people in positions such as mine who know the area, the communities and key individuals.
"It also means I'm accountable. People see me when I'm on duty and when I'm off-duty. If they are not happy about something, they will tell me, and that is how it should be."
Mr Handley was born in Abercrave, and, with 30 years of experience under his belt, is one of the longest-serving officers in the western division covering Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot.
He joined the Metropolitan Police 30 years ago, and worked in the Southall and Acton areas of London before transferring to South Wales in 1984.
Initially, he was beat bobby for Seven Sisters and Glynneath before switching to CID in 1987.
Later he became a uniform inspector based in Neath, before leaving to take control of Morriston CID 20 months ago.
His new "patch" not only covers Neath, Port Talbot and the Swansea Valley, but extends into Clydach, Birchgrove, Llansamlet, Bonymaen, Morriston, Clase and Llangyfelach.
"I spent 24 of my 30 years in CID, so it's like coming home for me," he said. "I have gone off and done other things but I always come back to CID sooner or later.
"I love it because it's exciting, diverse and complicated. You never know what you are going to come into. We deal with the more serious and complex crimes so you have to apply your mind and think about the best way to investigate it.
"It gives you an opportunity to show your mettle and show your investigative acumen."
And while technology and forensic techniques have come on in leaps and bounds, he said there were some parts of policing that had remained unchanged for years.
"Knocking on doors, talking to people, asking them what they have seen ... that interaction is as important as it has ever been."
As well as serving in this area, he has twice been to Kosovo with Nato, in 2010 and 2011.
"I have a background in interview training, so I went there to train members of the Kosovo intelligence agency in interviewing techniques," he explained.
Closer to home, he has been involved in numerous high-profile murder investigations, including the Clydach murders and the Phillip "Phil the Tramp" case in Neath.
Those were resolved. But there was another where the truth remains sadly undiscovered.
That involved another Phillip Jones, a 72-year-old pensioner who went for his usual Sunday walk in his home village of Crynant in 1987 and was never seen again.
"If there was one thing I would liked to have resolved it was what happened to Phillip Jones," said Mr Handley.
"He would walk from his home in Main Road to the Cefn Coed museum and back in time for lunch. This time he never came back.
"I would like to have found the answer for the sake of his wife Ada. But unfortunately she recently passed away, without ever knowing what happened to her husband."