Future of neighbourhood policing

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Future of neighbourhood policing

A named officer for every neighbourhood, more opportunities for everyone to have their say and services delivered to the doorstep. That's the future for local policing in Gloucestershire as outlined during Community Engagement Week.

Policing was the focus of one of the week's events, on Thursday, December 7th, when delegates discussed Delivering Community Safety in Neighbourhoods at Gloucester's New County Hotel.

The afternoon showcased the Force's work to cut crime and anti-social behaviour by establishing teams of dedicated officers to work at the heart of each community and to listen and respond to residents' and business people's concerns more than ever before.

It was part of a series of forums organized by the Gloucester Partnership to highlight good community engagement work already being done and to explore the ways in which a range of agencies could work more closely with local people to improve services and quality of life.

Gloucestershire Constabulary's Chief Constable Timothy Brain was the opening speaker at Thursday's event.

Explaining that community engagement had long been a Force priority, as was reflected in the establishment of Inspector Neighbourhood Areas in 1998, he said: "We see policing as a community-based event, that is where its foundations are and that is what we recognized in the name INA. Eight and a half years later, we like to think the rest of the country has just about caught up with our view while we want to take neighbourhood policing to the next level."

Describing how several safer community teams were now well established, he said by April 2007 every INA would have one. This, he said, would mean each community would have a named, recognisable and accessible police officer dedicated to their area.

Based at local police stations, SCT officers are dedicated to their community rather than to general emergency call outs and so provide a familiar and accessible presence there. While increasing high-visibility policing in an area to reduce incidents such as car crime, vandalism, burglaries and anti-social behaviour, they also work closely with partner agencies to identify trouble spots and crime trends and gather intelligence to allow positive and very targeted action to be taken against those committing crimes.

Plans are now being put in place for them to work increasingly closely with other community organizations and to consult more with residents in shaping their priorities, Dr Brain said.

"We're taking our engagement with the community and with our partners a step further," he said. "It's not about a policing problem or a policing solution alone, many of the problems we face can only be tackled by working with our partners and with the community."

The conference then heard how police and partner agencies' pioneering community work in Gloucester city is already helping to tackle concerns and improve neighbourhoods.

Sergeant Jason Keates of the Barton, Tredworth and White City SCT described how residents of the Napier Street area had been invited to go for an evening walkabout with officers and suggest improvements to reduce the fear of crime. As a result, additional lighting and CCTV are being installed.

Sue Tilley of The Gloucester Anti-Social Behaviour Unit explained some of the initiatives being explored to tackle root causes of ASB, such as support packages for families, and Louise Beard of Gloucester City Homes discussed how meetings with Matson residents led to the development of an ASB charter. Some of its targets, such as activities with local youths, were already being delivered, she said.

Opening the event, Chief Inspector Roger Clayton said: "We're really moving forward the community policing agenda. People in every area will soon have a named, individual officer to help them if they have any concerns and we will be holding a series of consultations so people can express their views and have a say in how they are policed. We will listen and respond accordingly. A whole raft of mechanisms is also being put in place to ensure people can access the services they need more easily than ever. People don't seem to like coming to meetings so we will be going to them with events such as street surgeries. This is all about being more visible and listening to people more, not just to tick boxes but to act on what they say."

"By drilling down the service we provide to smaller, recognizable communities and working closely with our partner agencies who are adopting the same strategy, we are optimistic we can make a big difference. We believe people will not only find it easier to access the support and services they need but that crime will be reduced, anti-social behaviour will be driven down and more offenders will be brought to justice."

The Gloucester Partnership is an association of key organizations working in the city, they include Gloucester City Homes, the police, health agencies and several voluntary organizations.

Community Engagement Week co-ordinator Mary Peplow said: "The aim was to get community engagement on the agenda and get agencies to really work with residents rather than just draft a plan for them and walking away. It was about putting community engagement at the heart of organisations' culture because if we're really working with the communities we serve there are going to be better outcomes."

Posted : 12/12/2006 15:49:19

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