People

Respected Altrincham detective retires after 30 years on the beat

By David Prior at

A detective constable who played a key role in the historic sex abuse cases involving former Altrincham teachers Alan Morris and Fred Talbot has this week retired after 30 years on the beat.

Nicola Graham, who was based at Altrincham Police Station, was until yesterday the longest serving police officer in Trafford, and “by a long stretch” the longest serving female police officer.

A former Altrincham Grammar schoolgirl and South Trafford College student, she has spent her life in Altrincham and the vast majority of her career in uniform was spent at the police HQ on Barrington Road.

The 52-year-old, who has a 20-year-old son, described her three decades with the force – she retired after exactly 30 years – as “amazing”.

“I’ve been on a rollercoaster for the last few weeks,” she said. “It’s really weird – one minute you’re a hard-working detective and the next you’re a retired cop.

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Nicola Graham outside Altrincham Police Station on Barrington Road

“I’ll miss the friends, the people and the camaraderie, and I’ll also miss the rewarding satisfaction when you’re in court and you get a guilty verdict. You can’t replace that moment. But other than that, I’m ready for a rest!”

She says the highlight of her career has been the last 13 years working in Trafford’s Child Protection Unit, during which time she has worked on high-profile historic abuse cases.

Among them was the case involving Alan Morris, the former chemistry teacher at St Ambrose College in Hale Barns, who was jailed for nine years in 2014 after a prosecution case that was so extensive it had to be split into three trials.

“They were very close to my heart because the people involved were in my peer group as I was at school at the same time,” she said.

DC Graham as a trainee police officer in July 1986

DC Graham as a trainee police officer in July 1986

Journalist David Nolan, who forfeited his right to give evidence in order to make a documentary about the trial, worked closely with DC Graham and said her involvement was instrumental.

He said: “The St Ambrose case was a very difficult investigation and I’m not sure that Alan Morris would be behind bars now if it hadn’t been for Nicola. I think a lot of the ex-pupils might not have given evidence had it not been for her kindness and sympathy towards them.

“She lived every moment of that case alongside them. I was with Nicola when the verdict was read out. She was in tears. You don’t expect that from a detective do you? It shows how much she cares.”

DC Graham, who has worked full time throughout and only took 13 weeks off for maternity leave when she had her son, now 20, said she hoped she had brought a “passion for justice and a willingness to go that extra mile for people”. “But I hope I’ve brought a sense of humour too.”