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Gwent Police Federation

‘Honoured’ police officer reveals shock at being featured on local wall art mural

17 October 2022

Val is pictured with Inspector Hannah Welti and Sergeant Merv Priest

 

An ‘honoured and shocked’ Gwent cop who has been featured on a mural painted by a local artist says his passion for policing was driven by his determination to build bridges with the local community.

Val Bryan has been serving members of Pillgwenlly, Newport for 28 years having joined the Force in 1994.

In honour of Val, and to mark his retirement - which is coming up at the beginning of January - Newport artist Andy O’Rourke was commissioned by the Force to paint a mural featuring the community officer.

“A colleague told me about the mural and I was very shocked. I feel honoured and really appreciate it, but I’m just doing my job,” said father-of-two Val.

Having grown up in Lewisham, London - during a time when there was a very ‘them and us’ attitude to police officers - the now 57-year-old reveals that he has spent the past three decades trying to develop strong links between the Force and the local community. 

“I was passionate about getting to know the community, and them getting to know me, especially the black community,” explained Val. 

“I grew up in London, during the riots, so for me - and my mates - the police had a bad reputation. When I became an officer, I actually had mates who wouldn’t speak to me at the time - they do now, but back then, some of them didn’t want to know me.

“But it’s wrong that all officers are tarred with the same brush and I wanted to change that.”

Since launching his career in the Force, Val says he has been ‘making a point’ of getting out and about, talking to members of the community.

“I wanted to be out, amongst people. We even set up games of football between the police and the community when I first started. And today, we get heavily involved in the carnival that takes place in the area every year,” he added.

“I very much believe in the police being part of the community. I try to speak to younger people - most of who, I’ve seen grow up now - and try to change their mindset about the police. And I talk to the older members of the community and try to get things done for them.

“I wanted to show people that the police are here to protect the community, be part of it, and help solve their issues. And I try to give them a point of contact, to help if they have any problems and want to report it.”

Being featured on the mural represents and reflects the involvement Val has had with the community in Pillgwenlly, 28 years admits to being very proud of. 

He added: “I thought somebody would have defaced it by now, and I’m surprised they haven’t - although I’ve worked hard to build bridges with the community, I’ve upset a few people over the years too. To see that nobody has scribbled all over it by now makes me even more chuffed.”