Tony Walley ““ On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

Government Cuts Threaten Community Stability

The recent Government announcement that there will be a 4% cut in Police Funding is something that worries me greatly.

Staffordshire Police have the responsibility of keeping all 238,000 of the population of Stoke-on-Trent safe in an area of 36 square miles.

The forces Neighbourhood Policing Units [NPU] have proved to be a major success. They have brought a sense of good old fashioned policing [minus the clip "Ëœround the back of the ear] back onto the streets of our sometimes troubled City.

NPU’s have had a massive impact on reducing Anti Social Behaviour [ASB] across the city, in fact this year there has been a reduction of 20% in ASB incidents.

I have seen at first hand the way these NPU’s work, and the effect that they have on ASB. PCSO’s and PC’s patrol all areas in particular problem estates. They get to know the faces of the movers and shakers. They gain the trust of the young people and help them to find places like youth clubs so that they can hang out together safely and take part in a variety of activities provided by the Local Authority and the Police.

The partnership working between the council and the police has yielded dividends.

Area Implementation Teams working together with Ward Councillors and the NPU’s meet regularly and listen to the concerns of Resident Association representatives. This helps the Police to target areas where incidents of ASB are affecting the life of the residents of a particular area.

In the area that I live in, Rob Flello MP along with our ward councillors, the AIT and the Police worked together to snuff out what was a considerable amount of ASB that absolutely blighted the lives of the residents of Meir Hay and the surrounding areas. A Section 30 dispersal notice was implemented for a period of 6 months and complete calm was restored to the area.

Two years on and although there are a few isolated incidents, the area is relatively ASB free.

The impact of the cuts in funding to the Police as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review and the very recent announcement that Stoke-on-Trent City Council are looking to save £33million this year and the same for the next 3 consecutive years, will no doubt have a significant effect of the Policing and the services provided by our City Council.

If youth funding is cut and NPU’s are affected by cuts in Police funding, ASB could become a real problem for every community in the City.

Our NPU’s here in Stoke-on-Tent have played a prominent part in the success of the celebrated Operation Nemises. Cllr Abi Brown’s blog tells the tale, so does the number of cannabis factory closures across the city, including one on the corner of the cul de sac where I live.

David Cameron is always banging on about the big society. Well young people are a major part of our society. We must provide activities which are aimed towards their age groups and keeps them engaged. It is only when youth becomes disaffected that ASB pushes it’s self to the fore.

The big society would encourage the residents of the communities to provide the activities that would engage the youth of today.

But, a progressive society needs, in my opinion, services like the City Council’s Uth Service.

They get out there on the streets and they deliver the kind of activities that the youth of today want. If we cut this service, there will be, in all probability, a rapid rise in the number of reported ASB related issues.

If there are any changes to the way the NPU’s are run, or a reduction in the number of PCSO’s and PC’s on the beat, who will deal with the increased number of ASB incidents?

Furthermore, what impact will this reduction in funding have and will it result in the loss of youth services and an end to successful policing initiatives?

The answer is on that is quite simple and very probable, the lives of everyone who lives in all the communities across the 6 towns of Stoke-on-Trent will take a turn for the worse and ASB will become even more prominent on our streets.

I sympathise with Cllr Adrian Knapper who is fighting hard to keep the City Farm afloat in one guise or another. But I do wish our councillors would fight to keep our children’s centres and our youth services open and funded to a level where the services they provide can continue without a reduction.

Above all I appeal to all 60 elected representatives to fight to keep our celebrated and successful Police Force fully funded which will allow for the NPU’s to continue their invaluable work on the streets of our communities and our old people safe in their homes.

Police Surgeries This Week

Residents are encouraged to come along to meetings with officers from Neighbourhood Policing Units (NPUs) across the City over the next few days to discuss any issues or concerns the may have.

This afternoon officers who police the Abbey Hulton area of the city will be working from the Sutton Community Group base, Priory Road, between 4pm and 5pm.

Later this evening Officers who cover the Trentham and Hanford areas are hosting a Partners and Communities Together (PACT) meeting this evening. They will be working from the library at Trentham High School, Allerton Road, from 7pm.

Tomorrow (Thursday 4 February) officers from Bucknall NPU are holding a surgery at the Community House, Theodore Road, between 9am and 10.30am.

Officers from Longton NPU will be working from Coalville Community Centre, West Street, between 9.30am and 11am.

Residents in Fenton are invited to meet their local officers on Thursday morning. Officers will be at Fenton Library, Baker Street, between 10am and 12noon.

Officers who cover the Hanley East and Joiners Square areas will be working from Reginald Mitchell Court between 10am and 12noon on Thursday.

Residents in Longport are encouraged to attend a street meeting in Scott Lidgett Road between 11am and 12.30pm on Thursday.

Officers from Bucknall NPU are holding a surgery on Thursday afternoon at Smallthorne Community Centre, Community Drive, between 12noon and 2pm.

Officers who police the Milton, Baddeley Green and Stockton Brook areas are holding a PACT meeting on Thursday evening. They will be at Milton Bowling Club, Millrise Road, between 6pm and 8pm

City Centre NPU Commander Goes Under The Arrow

City centre workers and shoppers are encouraged to meet their local police commander as he stands under a giant billboard in Hanley next week.

Inspector Shaun Kerrigan, commander of the City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Unit (NPU), will be on hand to meet members of the public in Old Hall Street every day from Monday 11 to Saturday 16 January.

The poster bears Inspector Kerrigan’s picture, together with that of Jan Simpson, Neighbourhood Manager for the area from Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The poster acts as a giant invitation for residents to meet their local police commander and council neighbourhood manager, and raise any issues of concern. Insp Kerrigan and Jan Simpson will be standing under the billboard every day between 12noon and 2pm.

The billboard initiative was launched in Meir in December.

Inspector Elliott Sharrard-Williams, the commander of Longton NPU, met with over 200 people – and oversaw an arrest – during his seven-day stint of standing under the billboard.

The trial was deemed such a success on Longton NPU it will now be staged in the remaining five NPUs on the Stoke-on-Trent division – Bucknall, Burslem, City Centre, Stoke and Tunstall.

Inspector Kerrigan, who has been the City Centre commander for the last four years, is urging people to come up and talk to him next week.

‘This is an excellent opportunity for City Centre workers, shoppers and residents of the area to let me know about the issues which are affecting them. What are the priorities the police and its partners should be tackling in the community? This is a chance to talk to us face to face and let us know. My officers provide a high-visibility presence in the City Centre every day of the week, now it’s my turn to make myself accessible to members of the public. Please seize this opportunity to speak to me direct.’

Jan Simpson, Stoke-on-Trent City Council neighbourhood manager for Hanley and Burslem, said, ‘We aim to listen to the local community and work together in partnership to solve problems. By doing this we will make our area a better place to live, work, and visit.’