Star comment: Flexing of authority welcomed
You're under arrest, in the name of Wellington Town Council.
Yes, the town council is going into the policing business.
This is the sort of thing you hear people crying out for – bobbies on the beat in their communities. And while PCSOs are not police officers as such – they are uniformed staff who support the work of the police but do not have the same powers – this is an appointment which promises to be a real benefit to Wellington and also Newport, as they are each getting a half share.
In other words, the officer will spend 20 hours in Wellington and the remainder of the week in Newport.
What it will mean is that there is somebody on the ground who either knows the patch already, or quickly gets to know it, and so can address the various issues that arise that are concerning residents most. In the sights of the officer will be things like anti-social behaviour, drug use, and fly-tipping.
Police are stretched and cannot be everywhere, so this is an innovative way of providing a measure of community policing. And as the officer walks around, there is also that measure of reassurance to the community that someone is out there patrolling the streets. Not many people will dismiss their presence as not being "real" police officers. They can deal with minor offences and intervene to prevent crime, and conduct inquiries. It is a really responsible role.
One of the most valuable elements of the approach the town council has adopted is the very direct line of communication between the community and the officer, with weekly meetings to flag up matters that are causing particular concern.
Other parishes and towns are also looking at going down this route, so it could prove to be a community policing model which is widely adopted.
Nevertheless, it is a trial, and there may prove to be unexpected problems which crop up during the period. The way it has been constructed however does provide the groundwork for success, with perhaps one or two tweaks along the way as experience is gained on how to best make it work for the community. It all sounds like a completion of a circle, taking towns back to what many folk regard as the "good old days" of highly visible, responsive, policing.
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