BOBBIES with local knowledge making local decisions – they’re crucial to helping residents of rural Wales feel safe. High-level new research by university specialists reveals that communities want stronger neighbourhood bonds with the police. Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon, who funds the work known as Rural Connect, said: “Local policing is vital. I want offi cers to know – and be known – in their communities. That way we build trust and confi dence.
This research is an important reminder of some old lessons. Local people say the small stuff matters. We must tackle the crime and antisocial behaviour that doesn’t make headlines but does make their lives miserable. Senior offi cers must encourage the eff ort needed to build grassroots relationships; they must empower local offi cers to make judgments. Clear communication between the police and public is vital but it takes time, skill and eff ort. Rural Connect contains strong messages from the public and the police. It’s an important piece of research that will help us improve how we police rural communities.”
Dyfed-Powys has unique challenges due to its rural nature; it’s the biggest police force area in England and Wales, covering more than half the landmass of the principality, and has a thinly spread small population of around 520,000. In light of the report, Mr Salmon’s actions will include exploring: • Better mobility for local offi cers, including cycles and mopeds;
• More Special Constables with specialist local or professional knowledge;
• A Say Hello! campaign encouraging offi cers and public to speak more often.
• Local initiatives to replace ineff ective PACT meetings;
• More public access to mediation. He is already considering how schools work can become the responsibility of local offi cers. He wants a better 101 system, more investment in police IT, a review of police middle management and to review provision of the Bobby Van service : ‘Its withdrawal was a mistake’.
The research was led by the Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI) based at Cardiff University and used the expertise of Aberystwyth University’s Department of Law and Criminology. It included detailed discussions with members of the public, police offi cers and police staff . The sessions were run by UPSI, the Commissioner’s Offi ce and Dyfed-Powys Police. The key question was: “How can the police best connect with people living in rural communities?” Mr Salmon said: “The voices in this research deserve to be heard. They highlight key areas that we need to address. Some of these areas require small tweaks; others need more fundamental work. I will explore them all in more detail with the Chief Constable.” The Rural Connect report is published today and concludes that, although excellent work is being done by police communities across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, much still needs to be done. It recommends that neighbourhood police offi cers and volunteers should be fully valued, that local knowledge should be developed and retained, that local decision making should be encouraged and that the police should connect more with local people.
Mr Salmon said: “This research is already having an impact; it’s being woven into the force’s strategy for rural policing which is being developed. I want the police to be innovative and outward-thinking in working with local people. Already I’ve removed their targets, have brought a new focus to community policing, have created 30 new police offi cer posts and IT will bring 100,000 more hours on the beat this year. Police offi cers are using my grants to help local organisations thrive, they’re embracing innovations such as Twitter and I regularly witness strong relationships between offi cers, PCSOs and local people. But there’s a long way to go. The public have given me more ideas about what they want, I’ll be working hard with the Chief Constable to drive improvements and I’m already starting to build on the Rural Connect research.”
Sarah Tucker, a research associate at UPSI, said: “Working together with Dyfed Powys staff and offi cers we were able to listen to and understand the issues that aff ect them and their communities, creating an evidence base to inform future decision making.” Rural Connect report author Kate Williams, senior lecturer in criminology at Aberystwyth University and deputy director of the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice, said: “Working in partnership with Dyfed-Powys staff we were able to learn that both the police and the people in rural communities cherished a positive working relationship. With decisionmaking based on an understanding of local needs, the trust between police and rural communities would build and the connection would strengthen.” Other research just published on behalf of Mr Salmon includes an UPSI study into research literature on rural policing.
New Children’s Book based on local fisherman
CHILDREN’S AUTHOR Natalie L Davies has written a story based on local man, Mickey Beechey, of Llangrannog.
Natalie said: “I’ve written a series of children’s books with the central character, the lovely ‘Mickey the Fisherman’. The first book is called ‘Pollution’, and is a bright colourful and fun book with a valuable message.”
The book is available to buy on Amazon in both paperback and kindle, and can be found at: mybook.to/mickeythefisherman.
Council supports the Learning Disabilities ‘My Charter’
CABINET members and senior officers in Ceredigion have signed ‘My Charter’. In doing so, Ceredigion County Council have become the first council to sign up to the charter. My Charter was written by people who have learning disabilities in West Wales.
The charter says that people who have learning disabilities want to have more chances in life, more choice and to be listened to. It also says that people who have learning disabilities want to be treated as adults, to be given dignity and respect and that their information is kept private.
Councillor Alun Williams is the Cabinet member responsible for Adult Services. He said: “People with learning disabilities have the same aspirations, hopes and feelings as everyone else. They deserve the same services and to be treated equally in a way that’s appropriate to their needs. I’m delighted that Ceredigion has become the first council to sign the charter, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this can positively influence the way our population of people with learning disabilities are treated in the future.”
The charter was developed by people who have learning disabilities from across Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
Ceredigion Leisure Centres Summer holiday programme
A BUSY TIMETABLE of inclusive summer holiday activities for children has been organised across all Ceredigion County Council-run leisure centres in the county.
From football to bouncy castle sessions, from cycling skills to archery, there’s a wide variety of activities to choose from over the course of the summer.
There will also be day camps and multi-skills activity days available at some of the leisure centres, for children to attend for the whole day. There’s even a day trip to the beach with Teifi Leisure Centre!
A range of learning to swim programmes are available at Lampeter Swimming Pool and Plascrug Leisure Centre across the summer holidays. A week of swimming lessons will be delivered solely through the medium of Welsh in Plascrug Leisure Centre starting on 5 August.
Councillor Catrin Miles is the council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure Services. She said: “Ceredigion Actif is once again providing a busy timetable of fun activities during the summer. It’s a healthy and worthwhile way for children to spend their time during the summer.”
Booking for sessions is essential and staff at leisure centres reserve the right to cancel any session if attendance is too low.
For further information on the summer holiday activities planned, visit the Ceredigion Actif website.
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