Thurrock Community Policing Team models a more accessible police force that shows publicly how it is responding to victim reports and concerns. It is a breath of fresh air.
Thurrock has needed to seriously improve its image after some damaging press coverage about the lack of communication between the different agencies, there to serve the public and tackle anti-social behaviour (http://www.yourthurrock.com/Thurrock-Council-outraged-Essex-Police-tell/story-27673688-detail/story.html).
Just nine months ago Thurrock Council, Essex Police and the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner were publicly pointing the finger about who would and should deal with anti-social behaviour incidents. Frustration was focused on the general lack of public funding, but victims of anti-social behaviour will have been left wondering what hope there was for them to get any response to the behaviour they had to suffer.
That makes it all the more encouraging to see that this same area now models what we consider best practice for a police community team.
In YourThurrock, a local online newspaper, the Thurrock Community Policing Team share its May report, the first since the team was set up in early April: http://www.yourthurrock.com/Thurrock-Community-Policing-Team-report/story-29263724-detail/story.html
It sets out what type of complaints and concerns the police officers have received from residents, and crucially, what they have done about it. It mentions how they have worked together with their partners, the Council and with the Fire and Rescue Service, on different operations. Of course the focus is on the successes, but the tone is open and matter of fact without being too technical. At the end of the report comes a clear invitation to the community:
- a reminder that the Thurrock Community Policing team relies on help and feedback from the community;
- a public meeting to discuss local issues and policing priorities to which everyone is invited;
- an email address is supplied for the team; and
- Twitter handles for the specific PCs and PCSOs are shared.
We believe they are showing best practice for a genuinely accessible community police team. Specific Twitter handles and an email address may be common ground in today’s society, but the police so often seems to remain aloof from all this, hidden behind the anonymous 101 number.
ASB Help has often struggled to contact the police – with only the 101 number supplied and no idea of which named officer you need, it makes calling them rather intimidating. Of much greater concern, there are some regions that have chosen the Police to head up the Community Trigger but then only give the 101 number as a way to access it – a far cry from the statutory guidance of making it easy and accessible to activate the Trigger (for example Hampshire and Devon). Let’s not forget that there is also a charge to call 101 – over and above your free minutes, which can be a real barrier for some of the poorest victims.
We would love to hear from Thurrock’s residents as to whether they have felt the benefit of the formation of this team.