Safer Neighbourhoods page 2 of 4
Home Secretary probed over funding cuts for neighbourhood policing
A LABOUR MP has grilled the Home Secretary over the Government’s decision to cut funding for police community support officers.
The Home Office is reducing Kent’s budget for PCSOs by £3.5million.
The Kent Police Authority, which slammed the decision, had budgeted for an extra 474 support officers by April 2008 but can now only afford 273.
The MP for Dover and Deal, Gwyn Prosser, questioned John Reid at the Home Affairs Select Committee meeting this week.
Mr Prosser asked him: “Are you aware how shocked and disappointed Kent Police is to find the Home Office has severely cut its funding for the recruitment of PCSOs and what do you say to the Chief Constable of Kent who says that he will not now be able to properly implement his neighbourhood policing plans across the county?”
In response, the Home Secretary said the police service had informed his department that constabularies could now meet their targets and roll out neighbourhood policing with a lesser number of PCSOs.
Mr Reid told him that excellent progress had been made nationally with fewer support officers than expected.
He said the decision was taken after the police service pressed for greater flexibility in its funding.
The Home Office said last week that Kent Police was to receive an extra £2m next year in its overall budget.
POSTED: 13/12/2006 10:06:43
Council looking for more police
19th July 2006
A COUNCIL motion deploring the low number of police in the borough has been passed.
This is despite the force hitting its target for officer numbers for the past three years.
Just one councillor voted against the motion, proposed by Councillor Nicholas Bennett and seconded by Councillor Tim Stevens, at a meeting of Bromley Council.
Cllr Bennett said it was the second time such a motion had been put to the council in just over three years. He said: "There has been no significant increase in police. Until the creation of the safer neighbourhood teams this year, police figures hadn't increased at all since the Labour Government came to power nine years ago.
"The council also notes since 1997, reported crime, especially violence against the person, robbery and, has increased dramatically across Bromley. At the same time, no new prisons have been planned to tackle the rise in crime."
Figures released by Bromley police reveal force figures were below budgeted workforce targets between 2000 and 2003. In 2004, there were 470 police officers plus 45 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) 12 officers over the target figure.
The following year saw police figures break even, with 47 PCSOs, and this year the force is 39 officers over the target, in addition to 63 PCSOs.
Bromley police borough commander Chief Superintendent Martin Greenslade said: "The establishment of police officers has steadily increased over the past six years, with a significant increase of 14 officers this year to facilitate the rollout of safer neighbourhood policing in the borough. "During this year there will be an additional 48 PCSOs posted to Bromley to support the safer neighbourhood teams in those wards where more than 14,000 people live."
Cllr Bennett, who proposed the motion at a full council meeting on July 3, added: "This council has no confidence in the Government's competence to deal with the situation and resolves to communicate its concerns to the borough's MPs, the Greater London Assembly members and members of the Metropolitan Police Authority."
8:57am Wednesday 19th July 2006
We’re doing police’s job!
By Matt Wilkinson
Councillors took to the streets of an Oxford estate while campaigning against local police being "taken away" to other areas of the city.
Members of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) - including city councillors Stuart Craft, Lee Cole and Jane Lacy - patrolled trouble hotspots in Blackbird Leys on Friday.
Joined by volunteers and party members, the patrol filmed suspicious behaviour in areas well-known for antisocial behaviour and drug dealing.
After the patrol, the second organised in Blackbird Leys in the last 18 months, Blackbird Leys councillor Mr Craft accused Thames Valley Police of regularly removing the estate's neighbourhood officers to tackle crime elsewhere in the city.
Chief Insp Steph Cook said that periods of police leave meant Leys officers had been used to cover other areas, but the estate had not been understaffed.
Mr Craft said: "Despite its heavy promotion, the latest Government initiative of Neighbourhood Policing has turned out to be just another gimmick.
"While this strategy is being pushed, policing resources are actually being withdrawn from the estate.
"I understand the entire Blackbird Leys beat team is now expected to cover the entire city so they can attend only to incidents of the highest urgency on the estate.
"The authorities can't be allowed to hide behind public relations exercises like Neighbourhood Policing.
"The IWCA community patrol aims to highlight this as well as to promote the message that in the face of indifference from the police, the working class residents of Blackbird Leys have no choice but to take lawful collective action to tackle the problems of hard drug dealing and persistent antisocial behaviour."
Blackbird Leys neighbourhood policing team consists of five police officers, a sergeant and four Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). Mr Cole said for much of the summer the estate had been lacking cover with only one sergeant and two PCSOs because they had been forced to cover other areas.
Ms Cook said: "Members of the Blackbird Leys neighbourhood team are sometimes abstracted to help other areas, but this works both ways and they are covered by officers from the Rose Hill team. There are four PCSOs in the Blackbird Leys team and they are very rarely abstracted to other areas.
"The team are there to police Blackbird Leys and any abstractions are kept to a minimum. The team is also supported by a response team who are there to deal with emergency calls.
"It is not the case that the neighbourhood officers are constantly abstracted to work in other areas, which is hopefully borne out by the amount of good work these officers are doing within the estate."
8:45am Thursday 26th October 2006
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Anger at the Asbo backlog
THE fight against yobs is being hampered by a backlog in dealing with almost 400 reports of anti-social behaviour.
The Mail has learned that Hartlepool Borough Council has yet to process reports on 379 yob-related incidents.
A leading councillor and an anti-yob campaigner have branded the situation a disgrace. The council says it intends to pump more resources into tackling the backlog.
Campaigning resident Joanne Hanson, who has launched her own battle against yobs on the Dyke House estate, and gathered a 400-signature petition asking for action, said: "If the council knew what life was like here and appreciated what decent people have to go through, there wouldn't be a backlog. It's just not good enough. If the council has got this backlog it needs to get in gear and get it sorted pretty quickly."
The council's seven-strong anti-social behaviour unit (asbu) is responsible for recording thuggish acts as soon as details are passed on from police.
Particulars about the incident are fed into a database, allowing persistent offenders to be flagged up for anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos).
But there is a backlog of 379 of these Asbo 13 reports (forms used by police to report incidents) waiting to be processed.
Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond said the introduction of neighbourhood policing on April 3 - which increased the number of bobbies and community support officers on the beat - had contributed to an increasing number of Asbo 13 reports issued.
"From the start of 2006 to date, 2,487 Asbo forms were submitted to the seven-man unit, compared to 1,146 throughout the whole of 2005. The successful introduction of neighbourhood policing in Hartlepool has resulted in the generation of more Asbo 13 reports," said Mayor Drummond. "This did initially create a backlog, but that backlog is now falling and we expect that it will have gone within a couple of weeks."
Councillor Steve Wallace, the Labour representative for the Throston ward, said: "The backlog is a serious concern. These forms should be put straight into the computer. It's the only way we can increase the Asbos in the town.
30 September 2006
Play a part in Safer Neighbourhoods
By Rachel Sharp
THE Metropolitan Police are calling on Londoners to engage with their Safer Neighbourhoods teams in a bid to make a real difference within their communities.
A new advertising campaign is being launched today, as the service celebrates the milestone of having established complete Safer Neighbourhoods teams in each of the 624 wards in the capital. Each ward now has the minimum Safer Neighbourhoods model of one sergeant, two constables and three Police and Community Support Officers dedicated to neighbourhood policing.
This year's advertising campaign aims to raise awareness of Safer Neighbourhoods policing and encourage people to become involved with their teams in order to identify local problems and help improve the quality of life where they live.
There will be posters in London's underground stations and in tubes over the next fortnight, two weeks of radio advertising and three weeks of advertising in local London newspapers.
Leaflets are also being distributed to every London household by their local Safer Neighbourhoods teams to highlight the work being done at a local level.
Names, work addresses and contact details of each Safer Neighbourhoods team officer can be found by members of the public by entering their home postcode in the Met "Safer Neighbourhoods' website". The officers are dedicated to Safer Neighbourhood policing and are not abstracted from their neighbourhoods except in very exceptional circumstances.
The programme has grown from around 1,700 officers in March 2006 to more than 3,700 officers today. Chief Superintendent Steve Bloomfield, from Safer Neighbourhoods, said: "Having delivered the teams across London, now is the real challenge of continuing to deliver the style of visible, accessible and familiar policing that we promised and to continue to deal with the crimes that matter most to the local communities. "It is by working together with the public and our local partners that we are able to provide long-term solutions to problems such as anti-social behaviour, drug using, smashed bus stops, graffiti and noisy neighbours."
4:10pm Monday 15th January 2007
'Not just a sticking plaster for anti-social behaviour'
Oct 7 2006
Anna Hammond, South Wales Echo
Improved quality of life, more Bobbies on the beat and less crime were all promised when neighbourhood policing was launched. Improvements have been made in communities across South Wales, thanks to South Wales Police's monthly Partnership and Communities Together (Pact) meetings.
Some neighbourhoods are still plagued with the same problems - drugs, youth annoyance, prostitution to name a few - but as Cardiff's chief police officer admits, Pact meetings were never going to be a quick-fix solution to deep-rooted issues.
Chief Superintendent Bob Evans said: 'I am generally pleased with the way Pact meetings have been received across the city. The biggest challenge for us is managing expectations and some issues we are faced with have blighted our communities for many years and we are not able to address overnight. 'Pact meetings can't be an immediate sticking plaster for anti-social behaviour.'
In Merthyr Tydfil, Inspector Andy Evans said the public was slow to get involved but more people were now going to meetings, with an average of 20 to 30 people going to each meeting.
'Following a concerted effort by the Neighbourhood Teams, consisting of police officers, police community support officers and special constables, attendance is increasing significantly.
'All teams feel they have been successful due to the amount of positive feedback received from members of the community and the fact that attendances are increasing, which suggests an increased confidence that members of the Pact are listening to concerns and acting on them.'
It can be argued that Pact meetings simply generate a never-ending stream of complaints and take up valuable police time dealing with anti-social behaviour rather than fighting crime.
But the point of Pact meetings and neighbourhood policing is to allow officers to devote time to local concerns, and the monthly priorities are arguably the best indicator of what these are. When we reduced the opening hours of some of our police stations, this freed up staff and more incidents were dealt with over the phone,' said Chief Supt Evans.
'Officers are running around in panda cars less and less now and I can say that when we started neighbourhood policing we were sending an officer to 95 per cent of incidents, now we send one to 70 per cent.
'We are dealing with the public in a different way. Often people don't need to see an officer or don't need to see one for one or two days. Often they might need to see a youth worker or noise abatement worker.'
Perhaps one of the successes of Pact has been the reduction of motorbike annoyance in Beddau, Pontypridd, and in areas of Cardiff like Llanedeyrn, Pentwyn, Ely and Caerau. Some months ago police in the former areas were receiving daily calls about nuisance bikers but in September, there were just nine calls.
In Butetown and Grangetown prostitution and drug dealing have dominated meetings and work is being done to tackle these issues.
Police vow to tackle 'tormented' neighbourhoods
By Kate Southern
A community activist has presented a petition to the borough's police chief branding safer neighbourhood policing in Edmonton Green ineffective'.
Mohammed Yousuff, has gathered 269 signatures asking Chief Supt Sharon Rowe to boost the profile of the team among residents. Mr Yousuff of Dunholme Road, believes community confidence is at an all-time low as gangs are continuing to terrorise neighbourhoods without the intervention of the police.
He said: "A lot of residents feel threatened by gangs. The main problems are drugs, anti-social behaviour and intimidation, particularly around West Close. "Many people don't go out at all in the evenings because they are afraid, and this has forced them to change their lifestyle - they are living in torment.
He added: "When the Safer Neighbourhoods Team first arrived, we did see patrols and officers talked to the public, but that seems to have stopped. "Instead, we are encouraged to go to consultation meetings every three months, but very few people are able to go, either because they are old and infirm, work long hours, or have young children they cannot leave."
Safer Neighbourhood Teams are made up of one sergeant, two police officers and three police community support officers. Their aim is to listen and talk to residents about their crime concerns such as anti-social behaviour, graffiti and vandalism.
Insp Kenny Lang, who leads Safer Neighbourhoods teams for the east of the borough, said: "Mr Yousuff has raised some issues that need to be addresses and have taken these on board.
"We have recently increased the flexibility of Edmonton Green's consultation meetings, for example the last meeting ran all day from the team's base in Edmonton Green shopping centre. Insp Lang said three crime hot spots, Edmonton Green precinct, Ely Road trading estate and Brettenham Square, were currently being tackled.
He said West Close had also been made a priority with the establishment of a Neighbourhood Watch group. He added: "We recognise there are problems in West Close, particularly involving drugs, and we are putting measures in place to remedy them."
11:46am Friday 28th July 2006
Dispersal zone set up to rid area of unruly youth
By Stephen Abbott
Troublemakers hanging round a Feltham housing estate can now be banished if local police think they might be up to no good.
Feltham Police and Hounslow Borough Council have introduced a new dispersal zone covering the Sparrow Farm Estate following dozens of complaints from residents and businesses who have been intimidated, harassed or abused by loitering yobs.
The dispersal order lasts for four months until November 20 and anyone found guilty of breaching its conditions could face up to three months imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500.
Inspector Dave Henfrey, of Feltham police, said: "The Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNTs) are working on the priorities flagged up by the residents. In the case of the North Feltham team, antisocial behaviour is one of them. "The dispersal order will allow police to move those carry out intimidating or anti-social behaviour out of the area. I encourage residents to contact the North Feltham team direct regarding any issues with this new dispersal order please remember that we need you to make us aware of the problems so that we can do something about it. Any information received will be kept in confidence."
Crowds of yobs taking part in anti-social activities will be told to leave the area and ordered not to return for 24 hours. If they ignore this order and continue to cause problems, they can be arrested.
Notices about the dispersal order have been posted around the Sparrow Farm Estate by officers from the North Feltham SNT and community support officers (PCSOs) who will carry out regular patrols covering the dispersal zone.
To report antisocial behaviour in Feltham North call SNT officers on 020 8427 6387 or email their complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3:23pm Thursday 27th July 2006
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The borough's most trouble-ridden area is patrolled throughout the day by a safer neighbourhood team made up of a sergeant, two police constables and three police community support officers, who struggle to keep the Harrow's busiest shopping centre and 3,000 homes as safe as possible.
Last December, 22 of 24 pickpocketing offences took place in the town centre and there were 14 robberies in the area. Earlier this year, two teenagers were stabbed outside Harrow on the Hill tube station by a gang of robbers and just three days later, an elderly man was stabbed in the neck as he left his home in Greenhill Way.
PC Mick Milner, 58, has been on the force for 30 years and is on first-name terms with most of the local troublemakers. Standing in the bus station, the officers points out a number of robbers that have been caught by the SNT. He said: "This is community policing. All the kids know us and we know them. This job is all about rapport. Once you speak to them a few times they get some respect."
Joined by PCSOs, Diana Harris, 42, and Gary Weedon, 37, on December 13, the officers began their patrol at Harrow High School, in Gayton Road. Following groups of teens towards the shopping centres, Gary said: "We know most of the kids, when we first started they didn't know how to take us. They would push as far as they could without knowing where to stop. "A lot of people don't realise that PCSOs can hand out fines. If someone is 18 or over they can be fined up to £80."
The Greenhill ward is also patrolled by Diana, who became a PCSO in September and hopes to join the police as an officer after a year. She said: "Sometimes kids will come and talk to us as they see us as being different from police officers. "In this ward the bus station is the worst. Lots of schoolchildren meet there as and it is warm so they hang around for ages."
PC Milner added: "PCSOs have been a great help. They have quite a hard time from the kids though. A lot of them call them plastic cops'." For more information about how to become a PCSO visit www.metpolicecareers.co.uk or call 0845 727 2212.
9:05am Saturday 30th December 2006
Back in jail for talking to children
25 July 2006
A CONVICTED child sex offender is back behind bars thanks to the efforts of the Royal Docks Safer Neighbourhood Team and Newham Police.
The man, who is in his forties and cannot be named for legal reasons, was out of prison on licence and was subject to certain restrictions as part of his sentence for an indecent assault. Police Community Support Officers from the Royal Docks Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), were aware of this and built up a picture of his day-to-day activities.
It culminated in them notifying Newham Police's Public Protection Unit that they had seen him talking to a group of children - a breach of one of his licence conditions.
The sex-offender was swiftly arrested and charged in relation to the breach. The Home Office have revoked the man's licence, and will now decide how much more of his original sentence he will serve.
Sgt Jason O'Donohue from SNT said: "This is a prime example of PCSOs working amongst the community, acting to protect that community and make Royal Docks Ward a safe place for all."
Det Insp Jack Kendall, who heads the public protection unit, added: "This arrest demonstrates that police in Newham actively monitor all registered sex offenders in the borough, and will continue to deal robustly with anyone who breaches their conditions of release.
Parents angry over police's ramp raid
Jul 25 2006
By The Huddersfield Daily Examiner
CHILDREN playing on a bike ramp on a road were excited when a police van pulled into their cul-de-sac. But they became shocked when several officers jumped out and approached them.
Now the father of one of them said the police response to a neighbour's complaint about the youngsters going up and down the ramp on their bikes was over the top.
But the police say the van was on its way elsewhere and was passing, so officers volunteered to look into the complaint.
The youngsters had put the ramp next to the turning circle at the end of Winsford Drive off Waterloo Road in Waterloo last Sunday lunchtime.
It was next to the home of one of them, nine-year-old Daniel Clarke.
His father, 43-year-old Chris Clarke, said: "I was just cooking a barbecue and when the van turned up I thought something major must have happened.
"Then I saw the police talking to Daniel and went to see what was the matter."
He said the officers told him a neighbour had complained and they advised Mr Clarke that the ramp should not be used on a public highway.
Insp David Glover, of Huddersfield Neighbourhood Policing Team, said the police had received the complaint shortly before 11am that day.
He said the van - staffed by two constables and two police community support officers from the Neighbourhood Policing Team - was passing the area at 1.10pm on its way to another job and the officers volunteered to go to Winsford Drive.
He added: "They were there for six minutes and the officers advised the children about their safety."
The van normally patrols areas where police have received calls about anti-social behaviour.
Public given role in Heath security plans
21 July 2006
HAMPSTEAD Heath visitors may be given a say in how police tackle crime.
This week five Safer Neighbourhoods police teams were launched in Camden and Hampstead Heath bosses are likely to follow suit. The 800-acre plot is currently patrolled by the Heath Constabulary which tackles crimes as and when they happen.
But under a new model the officers would be told where to focus resources by members of a Hampstead Heath citizens panel consisting of people who regularly use the land.
Richard Gentry, constabulary manager, is compiling a report on the issue for Heath bosses the City of London Corporation. He said: "It is very much in its infancy at the moment. It is not the Met moving onto the Heath although we are surrounded by six Safer Neighbourhoods teams so there is a crossover. "We are here to provide a service to people on the Heath and it is to improve communication."
The scheme also aims to see the constabulary forge stronger links with neighbouring Met teams in Camden and Barnet. Nigel Steward, chairman of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods citizens panel, welcomed the move. He said: "It's a good idea because it gets the partnership working and that is what everyone wants between the Met and the constabulary. It would help close off the escape routes criminals use on the Heath from residential areas."
Mr Gentry said the report is expected to be completed by the autumn.
Meanwhile in the last few weeks Safer Neighbourhoods teams have been introduced in Fortune Green, Frognal and Fitzjohns, King's Cross, West Hampstead, and Bloomsbury and Covent Garden.
The crews consist of a sergeant, two PCs and three police community support officers (PCSOs). They are told what crimes to tackle by members of community and can not be moved off the borough for other operations other than a national emergency.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has described Safer Neighbourhoods as "the jewel in crown of London policing" and the scheme is ranked as the Met's number one priority - above counter terrorism.
At a meeting at UCL school in Frognal on Tuesday residents told their new team they wanted them to focus on targeting burglars, graffiti vandals and cyclists who ride on the footpaths.
Sergeant Philip Hewetson, head of the Frognal and Fitzjohns team, said: "We want to improve your quality of life. We are carrying out surveys and we are listening to your concerns. "We are looking to solve the problems long term."
Andrew Usiskin, of Redington Road is a member of the citizens panel that advises the team. He said: "Anything that really results in better communications between the community and the police has got to be a good idea.
New cop team to tackle cig sellers
28 June 2006
A NEW police team will flood the Nag's Head from next month to combat the illegal cigarette trade. Counterfeit sellers have plagued the area for years, harassing shoppers and threatening other traders.
But a team of six officers will hit the streets with the aim of ridding Holloway of its title of the counterfeit cigarette capital of the UK.
Ian Gault, chairman of the Nag's Head Town Centre Management Group, said: "We are pleased our concerns have been listened to. Having a dedicated presence helps traders feel safe and encourages more shoppers to come, especially if they know that illegal traders won't harass them."
The Nag's Head is patrolled by officers from the Finsbury Park Safer Neighbourhood team. Of Islington's 16 wards Finsbury Park has the highest level of crime. The Nag's Head accounts for almost half of those incidents.
The new team will include one sergeant, two PCs and three police community support officers.
Traders are reserving judgement, having seen the problems with sellers persist despite 109 arrests, 330,000 cigarettes confiscated and 22 prosecutions in the last six months of 2005 alone.
Roger Corbin, who runs Trek Flowers, outside the O2 centre, in Holloway Road, said: "These three or four-week crackdowns work for a bit but the sellers come back. Extra police will be a good thing but only if they are here seven days a week."
Islington Council is funding the new police team for the first year at a cost of almost £400,000. Councillor Marisha Ray (Liberal Democrat), executive member for community safety, said: "We want all areas to be safe and work closely with police to achieve this. more
Victory over yobs menace
Jun 23, 2006
A neighbourhood policing experiment on a Stafford housing estate has seen anti-social behaviour fall by 25 per cent in the space of a year.
Superintendent Stephan Popadynec, deputy commander for the Chase division of Staffordshire Police, told Stafford borough councillors that the number of incidents had fallen on the Highfields Estate by a quarter from May, 2005 to May this year.
Over the same period there had been a five per cent improvement in the detection rate for crime on the estate from 38 to 43 per cent. Superintendent Popadynec explained that a team of three Pcs and six police community support officers (PCSOs) had been put in place on the estate which had been plagued by anti-social behaviour.
Foot patrols were taking place on the estate from 8am to midnight. "It is basically Dixon of Dock Green with attitude," he stressed. As the number of PCSOs in the division, which covers Stafford and Cannock, is increased the neighbourhood policing will be rolled out to other areas.
Superintendent Popadynec said that although crime levels on the division were down 40 per cent over the last six to seven years, fear of crime had risen.
The aim of neighbourhood policing was to have a more visible presence and encourage people to provide information on who was committing local crimes, he said.
In Stafford there will be 43 neighbourhoods policed and in Stone, 66. "On Highfields the neighbourhood watch co-ordinators say they can't do their job now because we are everywhere," he added.
Superintendent Popadynec said that the number of PCSOs on the division was increasing from 18 this April to 87 by April next year and they would make up 20 per cent of the total policing establishment.
He said it was hoped to have most of the new PCSOs in place by Christmas. There would be 24 operating in Stafford and 10 in the Stone local policing unit. Councillor Ann E
dgeller called for the PCSOs to be issued with body armour but Supt Popadynec said it would not be necessary.
The worth of a quiet word
Many police officers realise that an expansion of summary powers will be counterproductive
Thursday August 17, 2006
A policeman's lot in today's criminal justice system is not a happy one, many officers tell me. Twenty years ago their influence on the system was drastically cut back with the creation of the Crown Prosecution Service. This government has now transferred the power to charge to the CPS as well.
So officers spend endless time processing cases over which they have no further control once they've fed them into the system, and the outcomes of which they may never know. Meanwhile, in response to public demand, the bobbies on the beat are often police community support officers (PCSOs), who don't even have the power of arrest in the first place.
Police officers, though, are very good at describing the half of the glass that is empty; in the other half are many new powers made available by a government increasingly strident in its criticism of the rest of the criminal justice system. The most obvious example is the Asbo.
It became something of a political virility symbol in the run-up to the last general election; other powers, such as dispersal orders, have by contrast attracted far less attention. Indeed, the introduction of on-the-spot justice in the form of penalty notices for disorder seems to have gone almost unnoticed - yet more than 35,000 PNDs had been issued in the first three quarters of 2004 compared to just under 2,000 Asbos.
This is the context in which some elements in the service are asking for more powers to dispense summary justice, confident that they are probably pushing at an open door. But despite this week's pre-emptive strike by the Association of Chief Police Officers, it is already apparent that this is not a consensus view. Aside from the arguments of principle against further eroding checks and balances within the criminal justice system that counter the arbitrary use of police powers, many officers of all ranks can see at least two good reasons why this could prove counter-productive.
Firstly, it is disingenuous to claim that the new powers would be the modern equivalent of informal intervention. Rather, officers are already constrained to intervene formally in many instances that could better be resolved with a low-key approach. In cases where some would rather "have a quiet word" than unnecessarily criminalise a young person, they feel they no longer have the discretion to do so.
Others are more than eager to use their powers to the full, because it may boost their force's standing in the league tables and their own performance-related pay. Yet any increase in adversarial encounters between police and young people can only alienate the citizens of the future, especially in deprived areas where large numbers of young people are likely to be on the street; and this will undermine any chance of policing such areas with consent.
Secondly, the claim that additional, summary powers will give bite to neighbourhood policing rests on a narrow interpretation of the concept that threatens to undermine the real potential of this initiative. Neighbourhood teams need time to build up relationships, which means officers need the discretion not to intervene formally in every instance where they could assert their authority. The price of playing the numbers game may be to miss out on the community intelligence that should be the dividend from increased trust among those members of the public who are often the hardest to reach.
This would be ironic, for, unless they improve this type of community intelligence, the police will continue the fight against crime with one hand tied behind their back; and, in terms of its counter-terrorism strategy, the government might find it had shot itself in the foot.
· Marian FitzGerald is a visiting professor of criminology at the University of Kent
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HELPDESKS TO FIGHT CRIME
31 July 2006
A NEW network of customer service centres is being set up as part of plans to re-organise crime reporting.
The centres, based in libraries, are being developed as part of the extension of the joint police and council Safer Neighbourhood Teams that are tackling, crime, nuisance and anti-social behaviour in Doncaster.
The centres, staffed by SNT workers, will allow people to report incidents in person - a facility that will be lost when six police station enquiry desks close in September. Doncaster Council had narrowly objected to the closure of the desks in Armthorpe, Edlington, Rossington, Stainforth, Adwick and Bentley. The police stations will remain open for other business.
But this week, Doncaster's police commander, Chief Superintendent Graham Cassidy, said the low usage of the desks, coupled with changes in the way that most crime is reported meant that the desk closures would go ahead by mid-September.
The new centres, which will be open Monday to Saturday, will be in Armthorpe, Bentley, Intake, Mexborough and Thorne, along with Balby, Bawtry, Conisbrough, Sprotbrough and Woodlands, which currently do not have police station enquiry desks.
SNT staff will be able to log complaints and direct them to the appropriate council department or police. Motorists required to show driving documents, or people reporting a road accident will, however, still need to travel into the main College Road, Doncaster, police station.
Mr Cassidy stressed that the enquiry desk closure was not cost-cutting but was a case of using resources more effectively and responding to a changing society where more crime was reported by telephone, mobile phone or e-mail.
The re-organisation also involved extending the opening hours of College Road and a higher visibility presence on the streets, including 140 community support officers attached to the safer neighbourhood teams. "I don't think people have fully appreciated all the elements of the jigsaw," said Mr Cassidy.
The plan was approved by the borough's Crime and Disorder Steering Group in July. Mr Cassidy had received only two letters - one from one of the borough's MPs seeking more information - in response to the consultation he undertook.
31 July 2006
Policing drive 'is nothing new'
Apr 25 2006
By Ben Griffin, Crime Reporter
THE drive towards "neighbourhood policing" is simply old-fashioned beat policing being repackaged, according to the police officers' union.
Paul Tonks, of the West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the much-vaunted neighbourhood policing model, introduced on April 1, had really been around for years.
Coventry has been split into 30 neighbourhoods, and each of which will have its own team of police officers, special constables, police community support officers, street wardens and traffic wardens. They are meant to be easily contactable and will tackle crime and antisocial behaviour.
Advocates say the new structure will enable officers to more easily respond to the concerns of the community.
But Mr Tonks said: "Let's be brutally honest - neighbourhood policing as I understand it has been with us for many years.
"The only real difference is that, years ago, the officers involved in that type of policing were affectionately known as permanent beat officers. One analogy to me is that, a few years ago, I tried to buy a Marathon chocolate bar only to find its name had changed to Snickers.
"It turned out to be exactly the same product with a different name."
West Midlands Police say neighbourhood policing will enable officers to focus on issues that residents identify as important to them.
In Longford, police attend community meetings and ask people to identify their three top concerns.
Officers then report back to those meeting to tell people what they have done to address those issues.
Prison Officers PCSOs H A T O S Windsor Safari
Prison Officers H A T O S Police Community Support officer