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Anyone caught using Bristol's streets as public toilets will be warned 'clean up or pay up' as part of a new operation launched by police in the city centre.
From Friday (July 21, 2006), people seen urinating in a public place will be offered the chance to clean up after themselves or, if they refuse, will either be issued with an £80 fine or reported for summons to court.
The new approach was piloted last Saturday, when police caught nine people. Eight agreed to clean up and one was issued with a fine.
Inspector Mike Cox, in charge of policing in the city centre, said: "There are hundreds of toilets in bars and clubs for people to use at night and even mobile urinals are bought out and put in busy locations at weekends. This means there is absolutely no excuse for people urinating on our streets.
"It costs over £1,500 to clean-up our city after a Saturday night, purely because people don't bother to use toilets or throw their litter in a bin.
"Urinating in a public place may well be considered a trivial issue in the grand scheme of things, but it is an offence and this operation is about putting some respect back into our city.
"It is low level anti-social behaviour like this that affects the most people – our message is that it will not be tolerated here in Bristol."
Two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) with cleaning equipment patrol the city on the lookout for offenders and targeting 'hotspots' like the lanes connecting the Hippodrome and Carling Academy, the road along the back of premises on the Waterfront, and St Stephens Church. Other officers working in the city centre also contact them to deal with any incidents.
Canon Tim Higgins from St Stephens Church is fully behind the initiative: "At present, many people around St Stephens are very offended by what they see and smell: this is not the way for us to meet and greet people.
"I am glad to hear that the police are looking to take real action to support those of us who feel strongly that the city centre is a good place to be, much better when people use the proper facilities."
Pauline Simpkins, Head of Operations at the Watershed in Bristol said: "The Watershed is an active member of the Harbourside Forum and supports the police 100 per cent in trying to stop people urinating in our area and the rest of the city centre."
Moped rider runs down PCSO
A police community support officer was deliberately run down by a yob on a stolen moped as she patrolled an Oxford estate.
PCSO Simone O'Dell was left with whiplash and bruising after the youth drove straight at her and her colleague Laura Jones as they were patrolling near Blackberry Lane in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, on Monday.
Last night, Ms O'Dell was recovering at home but told how the youth - a white 17-year-old - revved his engine before hitting her. She said: "We were just carrying out our normal foot patrols in the area, looking for signs of drug dealing, when I saw this lad coming down Blackberry Lane on a scooter.
"I could just tell from the way he was looking that he wasn't going to stop.
"He revved the bike up, and next thing I knew he had hit me, knocking me over, before he was chased by PCSO Jones and a member of the public, who we're still trying to trace. I have some whiplash and bruising but I'll be fine.
"I'll be back on my feet and I'll be on the lookout for him, so he'd be better off coming and talking to us rather than us going and finding him."
Despite the efforts of Ms Jones, the yob escaped, dumping the moped, a red Peugeot SpeedFight and fled in the direction of Samphire Road at about 6pm. The moped had been stolen, in Priory Lane, Littlemore, on June 17.
Pc Emma Green, of the Oxford autocrime team said: "I am concerned that anyone prepared to ride or drive stolen vehicles in such a dangerous manner could also pose a great risk to the public.
"I urge anyone with information to get in touch.
Anyone with information about the incident should call Pc Green on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
8:34am Wednesday 21st June 2006
Wardens give just 37 tickets in 6 months
TRAFFIC wardens employed at a cost of £886,000 a year by East Herts Council issued a paltry 37 tickets in Buntingford in SIX MONTHS.
They are such a rare sight in Buntingford that even police are breaking parking rules, the Mercury can exclusively reveal.
Wardens visited the town just 68 times on 144 enforceable days between January 1 and June 30.
Just one ticket was issued for every four days that wardens should have been patrolling the streets. By contrast, 6,330 tickets were issued in the same period in Hertford — 2,672 of those on the streets.
The striking figures emerged following an investigation by Layston Meadow resident Malcolm Taylor. He was sent them by Andrew Pulham, East Herts Council's head of parking services, who said the council's contractor, Central Parking Systems (CPS), had 16 wardens to cover the entire district. But the Mercury was told in January that wardens should visit Buntingford every day.
In his response to the council on Wednesday, Mr Taylor wrote: "Clearly from the figures you have given, this is not happening. This leads to the conclusion that CPS are in breach of their contract with East Herts Council. "It also suggests that in order to satisfy requirements in Hertford and Bishop's Stortford, resources have been withdrawn from the streets of Buntingford."
Mr Taylor, who represented Buntingford Civic Society on a joint traffic working party, went on: "Every day of the week one can witness gross abuse of the parking regulations in lower and upper High Street, Market Hill and Baldock Road.
"It is difficult to imagine how so many offending vehicles can escape receiving a penalty charge notice.
"On any day of the week, I estimate that 40 to 50 vehicles do not observe the parking regulations in lower High Street alone.
"Over a six-month period this would amount to about 6,000-7,000 motorists breaking the law."
Among those who have flouted the law were uniformed officers. Town councillor Pat Whittaker said: "Last week I saw four police community support officers park their community police car on the pavement in the High Street while they bought their lunch in the bakery. They ignored the restriction because, like many others, they know they can get away with it.
"Residents are paying their rates to East Herts but we're treated like the poor relations. We don't get our coverage from parking wardens like we don't get our coverage from the police."
An East Herts Council spokesman said: "East Herts parking attendants are set patrol routes every day by the contractor.
"The number of times we ask them to visit particular sites is flexible so we can address changing circumstances or any issues that might arise.
"We welcome people's feedback and we're aware of some people's concerns in Buntingford. In response we've asked the contractor to ensure more resources are given over to patrol in Buntingford."
28 July 2006
check out the brand new 2007 John Child calendar completed for PCSOs across the UK
12 crucial cartoons depicting real life PCSO scrapes, issues and commentary, this calendar is a must for all PCSO offices across the country!
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John Child: "As the adverts say 'Community Support Officer, Could you?'. Well I couldn't which makes me highly respect anyone that has chosen this career. But what I can do is pay homage through cartoons that are an acknowledgement of the day to day situations that PCSOs have to put up with."
John Child is a Graphic Designer who passes PCSOs at London Charing Cross everyday. He often wonders if the PCSOs he sees can guess he is the artist behind their calendars. Friday 15th September 2006
No-go area for yobs
31 May 2006
Police can order residents off the streets under drastic new dispersal powers covering the South Kilburn Estate.
From this week police and Police Community Support Officers have the power to arrest anyone who does not follow a direction to leave the new 'dispersal zone', with offenders facing a potential fine or jail term.
The zone covers the southern end of the estate, a triangle enclosed by Carlton Vale, Kilburn Park Road and Malvern Road, and will last until August 30.
The police and Brent Council imposed the controversial measure under anti-social behaviour legislation.
The council and police partnership has increased activity under this legislation in recent months, including a separate dispersal zone covering seven streets in Dollis Hill which began on May 15.
For the full story see this week's Times
Police desperate for community support officers
By Sukhi Anand
HARROW police desperately need more community support officers.
Speaking at the Harrow police and community consultative group meeting on monday last week, Chief Inspector Jonathan Schulten said that that all 21 of the borough's wards now had a dedicated afer neighbourhood team but some were short of PCSOs.
He said: "We are awaiting more support officers and as they are posted to us they will be put on the streets straight away.
"We want to increase each team to one sergeant, two constables and three PCSOs. It's what the Metropolitan Police are aiming for."
The Met wants to recruit 1,500 PCSOs across London in the coming year but only one in 26 people who express an interest is accepted.
As part of a recruitment drive, a mobile information unit will be parked near the Rat and Parrot pub in St. Anns Road, Harrow, on June 14 and 15.
Dave Prowse, the borough's Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, told the meeting: "We will be working with safer neighbourhood teams and have liaised with them on how to start more watches.
"Police cannot deal with issues alone they need the help of the whole community.
"I am passionate about getting people to ring in and report things.
"I know some people can worry about calling the police but I am a civilian and support staff.
"I can input information into a police system so that they are aware of what is going on."
For more information on Neighbourhood Watch, call Mr Prowse on 020 8733 3612.
2:28pm Wednesday 31st May 2006
Government enlists public service 'spies'
Council staff may be given police intelligence to monitor local criminals
Patrick Wintour and Hugh Muir
Friday May 19, 2006
Neighbourhood wardens, community support officers, park keepers, housing officers and other frontline council staff should be given regular access to local police intelligence in an attempt to clamp down on antisocial behaviour and other low-level crime, under plans being examined by Downing Street.
The plan, seen as part of a strategy to develop more effective neighbourhood policing teams throughout England by 2008, has been supported by Hazel Blears in her role as home office minister responsible for crime before switching to the post of Labour party chairman.
Ministers believe an army of frontline public sector workers could provide information on criminals if they were, in return, given access to police intelligence.
The police will be unnerved by the proposals, which come after disputed Police Federation claims that ministers and chief police officers are willing to cut total police numbers by as many as 25,000 as the number of cheaper police community support officers increases.
The efforts of police and local councils to combat the antisocial behaviour and other crimes at the heart of the new plans was also criticised this week in an Audit Commission report. A survey by the commission showed that over half the police were not using information from neighbourhood wardens.
It also found that methods of recording antisocial behaviour have been developed haphazardly, with only 30% of crime and disorder reduction partnerships using the categories recommended by the Home Office.
A spokesman for the Police Federation said it would be concerned by any plans to make police intelligence more widely available. "There will be issues about data protection and confidentiality," he said.
"The biggest issue is that sensitive information is carefully handled. The police service is entirely accountable for all its actions and there are mechanisms in place if information is leaked.
"There are already mechanisms for sharing some information on things like antisocial behaviour and that will involve local authority employees. But if they are given information there will be an expectation that they will do something with it. We would be concerned if this is part of a plan to see policing functions further handed out to people without power."
James Welch, legal director of Liberty, said: "Police intelligence is highly sensitive and can be very dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. It should only be disclosed on an absolute need-to-know basis. Wardens do not receive the same specialist training that police do. Why is such sensitive information, seemingly irrelevant to their work, being given to them?"
Although the police normally enjoy political protection from the Conservatives, the Tory leader, David Cameron, has recently referred to them as one of the great last unreformed public services.
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MP frustrated by PCSO delays
Police have recruited just a fifth of the number of community support officers necessary for "proper coverage" of north Oxfordshire, according to Tony Baldry, Conservative MP for Banbury.
He told the House of Commons yesterday that "cumbersome" vetting rules and incomplete funding arrangements were frustrating plans to fight anti-social behaviour in the Cherwell district.
Community support officers are uniformed officers who support police in tackling public disorder.
Mr Baldry said: "Thames Valley Police estimate that over the next 18 months in my constituency they need to recruit somewhere between 26 and 32 community support officers to give proper coverage. So far they have recruited just six.
"There appear to be two problems vetting seems to be very cumbersome. Second is funding the Government is only funding 75 per cent of these posts, which means Thames Valley Police has to find 25 per cent from other Government programmes which doesn't seem particularly joined up.
"Horton Hospital is funding two of these community support officers. Between spin and reality lies frustration."
Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker responded that vetting was important to ensure the "right calibre" of officers and said the Government was providing "significant" funding.
8:59am Tuesday 16th May 2006
All we have to show ........
But how can it be failing? Since Labour came to power in 1997 it has probably introduced more legislation in this field than in the preceding 50 years.
There have been dozens of measures and hundreds of new laws with the expressed intention of "rebalancing" the system in favour of the law-abiding majority and away from the offender, one of the areas highlighted by Mr Blair in his letter.
Since 1997, the Labour Government has set up crime prevention partnerships; quickened the pace of the youth justice system; tightened supervision of sex offenders; created a National Probation Service and then subsumed it into a new combined punishment service called Noms; expanded CCTV to record levels; introduced new "race crime" laws; established a National Police Plan; proposed the amalgamation of county police forces in England and Wales; established a Serious Organised Crime Agency; downgraded cannabis to a Class C drug; set up an agency to seize assets from unconvicted but suspected criminals; and passed laws for an ID card.
It has reformed sex offence laws, sought to curb anti-social behaviour and ratified EU plans for a Europe-wide arrest warrant.
It has several times reformed aspects of the criminal justice system to allow previous convictions to be disclosed in court and to encourage greater use of community sentences for certain non-violent crimes.
Despite this law-making frenzy, Mr Blair detects that the country does not feel safer and that public confidence has declined. But if we were to conduct an audit of Labour's record in this area, what would we find?
The message that the Government wants to promote is clear enough: that crime has fallen, the likelihood of being a victim is the lowest for 20 years, there are more policemen, anti-social behaviour is being tackled and sentences are tougher.
In his letter to Mr Reid, the Prime Minister also asks for action on asylum, public protection, counter-terrorism, drugs and human rights. What is the Government's record in these areas?
In 1997, the police recorded 4,598,000 crimes. In 2003-04, they recorded 5,562,700. So things have got worse? Not necessarily. More police could mean more criminals caught and brought to book. But since so-called volume crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft have definitely dropped, how do we explain another one million recorded offences since 1997?
The Home Office prefers to focus on the British Crime Survey, which questions householders about their experiences and shows offending to have fallen significantly.
However, in 1997, the police recorded 344,000 violent crimes. In 2003-04, they recorded 1.18 million. Even allowing for changes in recording practices, which make like-with-like comparisons very difficult, this figure suggests at the very least that things have not got better and may have got a lot worse.
Murder, threats to murder, sex offences, wounding and assaults have shot up. Despite Government claims to have cut street crime recently, this was only from the extraordinary level to which it had risen and it is going up again. The number of robberies has doubled since 1997.
Fear of crime
This is a measure of confidence in the effectiveness of the criminal justice system but invariably differs depending on where you live and how old you are.
Often, the people who are most afraid of crime - the elderly - are least likely to experience it.
But the Government has been insistent that fear of crime has fallen. The most recent Home Office crime statistics cited the British Crime Survey to show "that confidence in the CJS has improved in all areas (where a trend is possible) compared with the previous year".
According to the British Crime Survey, the chance of becoming another crime statistic has fallen from 40 per cent in 1995 to 27 per cent, the same as in 1981. There has been a marked increase since 1997 in young victims (who are not picked up by the BCS), largely targeted for their mobile phones or iPods.
Whereas the chance of being burgled has fallen since 1997 - continuing a decline that began in 1995 - the risk of being a victim of violent crime, while small, has risen sharply, according to police statistics.
In 1997 there were 127,158 police officers and 53,000 civilian support staff. By 2000 this had fallen to 124,000 officers and 52,500 back-up staff.
A recruitment drive has led to the number of police officers increasing to more than 140,000 - the highest number ever. At the same time the number of special constables has almost halved from 20,000 in 1997 to about 11,000 today.
The important question is not how many policemen there are but what they do. How many are available for front-line duties? An inspectorate report in 2001 said the percentage of bobbies on the beat varied from about a third in some areas to two thirds in others.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that, on some nights, large towns have very few beat officers available for patrols. Also, since 1997 a large number of police stations have closed.
The Government is trying to increase the visible uniformed presence on the street by recruiting thousands of quasi-police called Community Support Officers.
In 1997, Labour promised to cut red tape and bureaucracy and has commissioned reports into form-filling by police. However, many officers complain that there is little noticeable difference.
The proposed merger of the 42 shire constabularies in England and Wales has been denounced as wasteful, expensive and disruptive when the Government is asking the police to do more to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Prison numbers have risen from 53,000 in 1996 to more than 77,000. Petty offenders are three times more likely to receive jail sentences than 10 years ago. The proportion of those sentenced who are sent to jail is now 64 per cent compared with 50 per cent in the mid-1990s.
Force denies 'cheap police'
May 3 2006 icBerkshire
THAMES Valley Police is to step up the number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) patrolling the streets over the next two years.
The force currently has 107 PCSOs on the beat but senior officers have revealed they plan to recruit another 675 by 2008 to deal with anti-social behaviour.
Chief Inspector Jon Smith, who is in charge of PCSOs,dismissed claims it is policing on the cheap.
He said: "The definition of crime is very narrow for police officers, but there are wider issues which can be dealt with by PCSOs.
"There are people who think it is policing on the cheap, but this is not the case.We are not trying to kid the public into thinking that they are police officers but to do certain tasks does not require the full power and training of officers."
PCSOs can demand names and addresses from people acting anti-socially and send them home, take alcohol and cigarettes from under-age people, remove abandoned vehicles, man cordons and help search people under the Terrorism Act.
Chief Inspector Smith continued: "Anti-social behaviour means different things to different people but we will look at what needs to be addressed.
"If someone is kicking a ball up against a fence it does not take a full police officer to deal with that."
The numbers of new PCSOs for Bracknell, Wokingham and Ascot is yet to be decided although there will be a "massive increase".
Chief inspector Smith added: "We are going to be taking on 675 people to spread over three counties so roughly it will be 200 each but at the moment it is purely speculative."
Thames Valley Police is launching a major recruitment drive this month to fill these vacancies. For more information, log on to www.policecouldyou.co.uk or www.thamesvalley.police.uk
North Devon: ELEVEN new Police Community Support Officers
17 May 2006
ELEVEN new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) reported for duty in North Devon and Torridgeside this week.
The PCSOs (five in Barnstaple, three in Holsworthy, two in Torrington and one in South Molton) have completed their initial training modules and began a three-week induction tutorship in the region on Monday.
After a further three weeks at the police training college at Seale Hayne, near Newton Abbot, they will then return to North Devon and Torridge to add a further uniformed presence on the streets.
By October, it is expected that an additional four PCSOs will be recruited for Bideford and two for Braunton, as well as two further PCSOs for Ilfracombe, adding to the existing two already on duty there.
The new PCSOs are (from left) Raquel Rowe (Holsworthy); Hannah Denton (Barnstaple rural); Maria Spry (Barnstaple town centre); Beverley Harvey (Holworthy); Steve Henderson (Torrington); Gareth Woolway (Barnstaple Forches); Daniel Rolfe (Barnstaple Forches); Paul Whitehouse (South Molton); Larraine Kenneally (Torrington); Sandra Brown (Holsworthy) and Tony Charles (Barnstaple).
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Copping on to plodcasting
By James Sturcke / Podcasts 10:20am
Apple says that more than 35,000 podcast shows are available to download from its iTunes music store in more than a dozen categories, including health, government and education.
In the first of an occasional series exploring how various groups have taken to the 21st century version of radio hamming, we've been listening in to three police podcasts, which inevitably have been dubbed plodcasts.
South Yorkshire constabulary, which believes it was the first force in the country to adopt podcasts, has produced more than 40 shows since last August. Its approach is as dry as a pre-Christmas drink driving campaign with highlighted topics including "sneak-in burglaries", "human trafficking" and "students' freshers' week". Mark Thompson, the force's head of communications, says they have been taken aback by the success of the shows, which have come to play an important role in crime awareness and policing messages:
"In June, over 7,500 people listened via our site and that does not include those who may have listened via iTunes. Clearly it has become a very valuable tool and we used podcasts last year as a way of consulting with the public over the possible changes under the Home Office's force amalgamation plan.
"We are looking at how to develop the podcasts. We would like to examine who is listening to the podcasts to be able to target them better and clearly there could be way of linking them to school curriculums. They could also be used for recruitment and for information about how to contact the force. Frankly I don't think the website is up to scratch at the moment and there is more we could do with it."
By contrast, West Midlands police's plodcast (delightfully, that's its official name) is very much the laughing policeman of podcasts. Launched by recruitment publicity officer Darren Yates, its shows so far have included examining the roles of special constables and police community support officers. Mr Yates, who has been told he sounds like Keith Chegwin, edits the podcast at home "because we don't have the software in the office" and says he tries to strike a balance in the lively show between informative yet fun.
"We have so far had three shows and we have had over 1,400 downloads. We are delighted with the response since we've done very little publicity. I would love to be a roving reporter and get out with the officers a bit or go on a raid.
"I really think podcasts are the way forward. People can get more of a flavour of what the job is than by reading information leaflets." Over in Cambridgeshire it's the force guv'nor who's behind the mic.
The chief constable, Julie Spence, hosts a fortnightly monologue. She attempts to set out the force's stance on sensitive policing issues such as tackling paedophiles, rape victims and police powers. Her style is much more, say, Reithian lecture to West Midland's Radio 1.
"People must see that justice is being done," she says in a recent show.
"We mustn't allow new systems and new ideas and new laws to get in the way of common sense and common decency. So I support the idea of giving my officers more powers to deliver on-the-spot justice and tackle antisocial behaviour and on-the-spot problems with a view to the courts backing up their decisions at a later date if necessary."
The podcasts have proved a hit with more than 2,000 downloads for the first three shows, says the force's web manager, James Pickett.
"The idea is to capture the mood of the moment and talk about topical issues. The chief constable wanted to look at ways of improving her profile in Cambridgeshire. We cannot believe how successful it has been."
31 July 2006
EXCLUSIVE: POLICE! FREEZE! STOP PLAYING HOPSCOTCH
EXCLUSIVE Girls told off for making pavement look 'a mess'
By Rod Chaytor
TWO children have been told off by police for playing hopscotch.
Two Community Support officers noted four or five chalked grids on a pavement and traced the culprits.
They told them they had drawn too many - and made them fetch a bucket of water and scrub all but one off.
Stunned Kayleigh Mangan, 14, who had been playing with pal Georgina Smallwood, also 14, said yesterday: "They said it made the street a mess and told us to clean it up. They said they didn't mind one but four or five was too many."
Georgina said: "I couldn't believe it. We're kids and want to play outside. What do they want us to do?"
Kayleigh's mum Lisa, 37, a teaching assistant, said: "I was absolutely flabbergasted. There were lots of children playing outside because it was the first week of the holidays.
"There are at least 14 kids in the street and one grid wasn't enough."
Earlier this year, parents in the area were angered when police warned children about riding bikes on pavements.
And last month a letter warned residents not to play ball games in the street. But in a letter earlier this month, police told them to encourage old-fashioned games such as spinning tops, jacks - and HOPSCOTCH.
Kayleigh said: "First they say we can't ride bikes and play ball, then they say play hopscotch, then we can't. What would they like to do, lock us in a cage?"
Georgina's mum Diane, 42, said: "Some of the newer residents, who don't have children, seem annoyed about them playing outside and are using neighbourhood watch and the police to make their point."
West Midlands police said they responded to a complaint, adding: "By targeting what may seem relatively low-level crime we aim to prevent it developing into more serious matters."
Prison Officers PCSOs H A T O S Windsor Safari
Prison Officers H A T O S Police Community Support officer