Cornwall

The Isles of Scilly police sergeant who found global fame

Colin Taylor Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption Sergeant Colin Taylor has gained tens of thousands of social media followers, secured a book deal and been spotted for a TV drama while policing the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly are not known for their high crime rate, but the exploits of its head of police have made him a star of social media and secured him a book deal.

Over the past seven years, Sgt Colin Taylor has used a child's bike to chase someone suspected of drinking and driving and kept the streets of Scilly free from anchor thieves and naked stag parties.

He has gained tens of thousands of social media followers, despite the islands only having a population of 2,200.

Now, as the 49-year-old prepares to resume his career on the mainland, BBC News looks back on some of his highlights fighting crime at the extremity of the British Isles, and how one police officer has gained such social media momentum.

Image copyright Isles of Scilly Police
Image caption The Isles of Scilly Police page has been verified by Facebook with a blue tick and has attracted nearly 60,000 likes

When attempting to catch a drink driver on a child's bike:

"People said there's no crime on Scilly, but I've managed to write about it for the last five years. Sometimes things happen and you just have to find the funny side," Sgt Taylor said.

On this occasion Sgt Taylor had to travel across different islands and borrow a child's bike while in pursuit of suspected drink driver.

"It was lucky the little boy was there with his bike to help me out, sometimes you've just got to think on your feet and get the job done," Sgt Taylor said.

Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption Sergeant Colin Taylor has gained tens of thousands of social media followers, secured a book deal and been spotted for a TV drama while policing the Isles of Scilly
Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption The Isles of Scilly Police describe policing as: "Like Heartbeat but less frenetic. Policing is like this everywhere, but not everywhere is Scilly"

The Isles of Scilly is not a big place, there's a population of just 2,200 people over five inhabited islands, plus countless uninhabited islands.

Despite this, the Isles of Scilly Police Facebook page has attracted 60,000 likes - the same amount as the whole of the Devon and Cornwall Police force page.

The sergeant also has a blog and Twitter account which has gained thousands of followers.

"It's been remarkable, a truly unique policing experience," Sgt Taylor said. "I've used social media to give myself a voice here for people on the island, I never expected it to take off like it has, our posts have exploded over social media.

"It's not just me, there are a team of us making it work. I think people like hearing about what the police do and a bit more about behind the scenes. A lot of police officers use social media to keep in touch with people, hopefully our page will encourage more people. I think if you're honest, people will want to interact."

When a fried egg is a clue in solving a crime:

Policing can be especially tough when there aren't many clues available.

A shed door was forced open at a football club, but one of the only clues available was a fried egg.

Sgt Taylor said he was surprised at how this post was picked up, with the photograph going on to appear on the BBC show Have I Got News For You.

Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption A shed door was forced open at a school's football club, but one of the only clues available was a fried egg

But humanising policing has brought him followers from across the world, and his popularity has won him a book deal where he has documented his many adventures.

The Life of a Scilly Sergeant: Adventures of High Tide and Low Crime, was published by Penguin and Studio Lambert, the creators of Gogglebox, have also met to discuss the story.

Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption Colin Taylor's book, "The Life of a Scilly Sergeant: Adventures of High Tide and Low Crime", was published last month by Penguin

When a police officer's presence is enough:

Sgt Taylor has served the Isles of Scilly twice in his career, as a police constable between 1998-2000, then returning as a police sergeant from 2011 until now, making him the longest-serving officer ever on the island.

But regardless of policing experience, sometimes it's worth remembering all it will take is a look in the right direction, and for long enough, to make your point when someone is, say, attempting a quick get away from a local pub at 2am while stealing a 25kg anchor.

"I didn't even have to say anything to him, he just looked at me, I looked at him and we both knew what was going to happen next. It's always worth lurking in the shadows on occasions like that!" he said.

Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption Sgt Taylor appeared from the shadows to deter someone getting away from a local pub at 2am while stealing a 25kg anchor

When advertising a new job to join the Isles of Scilly Police team:

When it comes to selling the job, Sgt Taylor clearly knew how to drum up interest.

He said the opportunity was "the most enviable policing post in the UK or even the world". He said skills required included "unflinching confidence to know what to do when you are alerted to an abandoned seal pup making its way up the main street".

This post was shared thousands of times and the team received applications from across the world.

"When we wrote some of our posts we forgot the audience we could attract from our little islands. Things just explode on social media," he said.

Image copyright Isles of Scilly Police

But it hasn't all been a barrel of laughs, sometimes the team need to tow the line.

"I'm not here to be liked. I've crossed swords many times with people who don't want to talk to me anymore. Sometimes you've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette, I'm not here to make friends.

"But I've also built great relationships with many people. That mix is what policing is all about," Sgt Taylor said.

Image copyright Isles of Scilly Police
Image caption The Isles of Scilly Police team in 2015, PCSO Shirley Graham, PC Nic Gould, Sgt Colin Taylor, SPC Tessa Lloyd, PC Mat Crowe

When arresting a fan:

Sgt Taylor caught one fan "butt naked" except for flip flops and flowers while holding a Hawaiian skirt with "pants AWOL".

The famed bobby said his fan immediately remarked: "Oh, are you the guy who does the Facebook stuff? Whatever happens here, keep it up mate."

After issuing a £90 fixed penalty notice Sgt Taylor used his police helmet to preserve the nudist's modesty.

Image copyright Isles of Scilly Police
Image caption Sgt Taylor caught one fan "butt naked" except for flip flops and flowers while holding a Hawaiian skirt with "pants AWOL".
Image copyright Colin Taylor
Image caption Sgt Colin Taylor with his wife Sarah, son Lewis and daughter Bella travelling on the Scillonian III

Now the sergeant, his wife and two children are taking to the high seas to return to their family home near Exeter in Devon.

"I'm ready to move on now. It's right for someone else to take the job on and start policing here with a fresh set of eyes. I'll miss the community aspect of life here, there are hundreds and thousands of relationships that have been built, and I'll miss them.

"I love island life, I can't imagine this is my last island adventure. It's good fun, and life is meant to be lived. I'm looking forward to the future and all it will hold," he said.

Image copyright Isles of Scilly Police

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