AN ANDOVER police officer who has been patrolling the town’s streets for 17 years is hanging up his hat.

PC Pete Nelson will leave Andover police station for the last time on Wednesday, 12 February for a month of leave before he officially retires in March.

The grandfather-to-be began his police career at the age of 43, after 22 years in the Army.

His first beat was King Arthur’s Way, where he remained for 11 years.

PC Nelson, pictured, told the Advertiser: “Going into the beats was what I wanted to do when I first joined.

“It took a while to get the trust of the residents as they thought an officer in a uniform was very officious, but that’s not my style.

“Being a beat officer, you want to be firm, fair and friendly but you have to work inside the law.”

The officer also worked in Cricketers Way, Roman Way, Augusta Park and most recently was a beat bobby in Harrow Way and Charlton.

He is a well-known face in schools in Andover, teaching children the dangers of guns and knives, personal and internet safety as well as taking part in a junior PCSO scheme.

PC Nelson said: “I think it’s about trying to stop the local community from getting into trouble with the police where I can.

“It’s about keeping in contact with them and trying to be a friend as well as an officer, but obviously because it’s a disciplined organisation and I am in an area that has to deal with the public that do offend I have to be seen to do my job and hopefully I have done it to the best of my ability.”

Chief Inspector Kory Thorne, the former district commander for Test Valley, said: “His loss for Andover police will be certainly immeasurable.

“He has been an individual who has gone over and above what we would expect from a neighbourhood police officer through the work he has done in trying to improve antisocial behaviour and trying to reduce crime.

“He will certainly be missed.”