Sarah’s Super Return
A BEACON SPECIAL INTERVIEW
Sarah Jackson is a true inspiration for any Isle of Wight youngster looking to build a successul career. Sarah went to the mainland to become a Police Constable, and has now returned to the Island as one of our most important and influential citizens. Sarah Jackson admits that when she was growing up on the Island she was not sure which career path she wanted to take, until she finally decided the police force would help her fulfil her aims and ambitions. However, when she moved to the mainland to become a Constable in August 1989, she could not have envisaged that she would ultimately return to the Island in the prestigious position of Superintendent Sarah Jackson.
As such she is in charge of the Isle of Wight district of the Hampshire Constabulary. Sarah is now some 15 months into her role, with around 150 officers and staff under her command. She said: “I love policing because every day is different and we have the opportunity to make someone’s life safer and possibly better, and we also prevent people being harmed, so what more could anyone want from a job? There are times when it is difficult and times when it is challenging and that is certainly been the case in the last 15 months. “It has been a busy time but I am surrounded by fabulous people. I may be the figure head but actually the people who do the hard work are my officers and staff on the ground, and I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to them because they are the ones who do the work day in, and day out, They talk to residents on the Island, and deal with their concerns; they are the ones who deliver that quality of service.”
Sarah was born in a police house in Newport. Her father, John (Jock) Horne, was a police officer and also heavily involved in Island football, while mother Adrienne was for many years a nurse working in the surgery at Brading. “I went to school at Barton Primary, then to Downside, and finally to Medina,” Sarah recalls. “I was a Brownie then a Girl Guide and a Venture Scout, which was a big part of my life growing up. I also did some work at Medina House on School Lane, for disabled children. I enjoyed working with children, and at that time did not really have any aspirations to join the police.” When she left school at 18, Sarah opted not to go to university. Instead she moved into retail management on the mainland, but soon realised that was not for her. She returned to the Island to live with mum and dad whilst she applied to join the police. Her first posting was to the New Forest before moving to Southampton. After a period working at the police training centre at Ashford in Kent, during which she was promoted to Sergeant, she returned to Hampshire. Over the next 15 years Sarah worked mainly in the north of Hampshire at Aldershot, Fleet, Yateley and Farnborough, as well as at Police HQ in Winchester where she became an Inspector in 2003 and Chief Inspector three years later. She said: “After a couple of abortive attempts at Superintendent, I was finally successful in 2014. During this time I was working for the Chief Constable as his staff officer which was a very busy and interesting job, but then I had the opportunity to come to the Island.
“I always said that if ever I worked on the Island I would move back here because it was all about a commitment to the community. It was great from a personal point of view because of my parents being here, and my husband Alan was very supportive because he had a job working elsewhere in Hampshire and gave that up in order that we could come here. “Alan does a great job supporting me; without him I couldn’t do what I do. He does all the things at home that I do not have time to do, and we also have a puppy called Duggie which is absolutely mad, but he’s gorgeous.” She continued: “I had a fantastic childhood on the Island, being on the beach, walking and doing all sorts of things. But actually not everyone here can do that, whether it’s older people, or young people who are vulnerable. “One of my key focuses is that we, in the broadest sense – the Police, Health, Local Authority and all of our partners – try to support all those people who are vulnerable, and minimise that vulnerability. “On the Island we have many small communities and it is about how people in those communities can support each other. Since I have been here we have had some busy times with sad events and those that you simply cannot predict. All I can say is that my focus is not only supporting the community but ensuring those who are committing crime know the Isle of Wight is the most inhospitable environment for them to exist in. “I want to make sure that anyone who thinks they are coming here to commit crime will know that they are going to get caught.
We have a team who are focusing on the most prolific offenders in conjunction with our partners. “It’s a balance making sure that we are working with partners and supporting the communities, but also enforcing the law and doing all we can to ensure those who should go before the court do so. “I am a great believer that we can’t do it all on our own though, We need the community to help and support us, whether that be Neighbourhood Watch or people just telling us what is going on so that we can take action.” Sarah continued: “So I have done the full circle coming to the Island, and one of the interesting things is that even though I knew I was coming back home, I have been surprised how much it has actually meant to me, because I was brought up here and I know what a great place the Island is to grow up. The sense I get is that for the Island to have someone who was born here to be in charge of the police actually does mean quite a lot, for which I am really grateful. “In making our decision to come to the Island, for me it was about a commitment to both the people of the Isle of Wight as well as the policing teams and my hope is to stay here as long as Hampshire Constabulary wants me to stay, and as long as I am doing a good job. “Superintendent is the highest position I can attain on the Island. The next rank would be Chief Superintendent but that would be on the mainland. Whilst I never say never, this is not in my plans for the near future. I want to commit to the Island for a number of years.”