In confidence by Inspector Dave Browning: Exploring new ways we can listen to you

At the recent PACT meeting in Todmorden
At the recent PACT meeting in Todmorden

After last month’s article on rubbish, litter and anti social behaviour, this month’s article is about how we gather people’s views and how our communities live harmoniously together.

In previous articles I have spoken about the need for people to let us know what is going on so that our police and council partnership can do something about local issues.

There is no “one size fits all” and my team is always looking for new ways to find out what people think.

Further details are on the Upper Valley NPT website, some are on the Calderdale Council website, but here are some of the methods that we use.

PACT (Partners and Communities Together) meetings are police run meetings, normally chaired by a Sergeant or an experienced PC. We report back on what has been done since the last meeting in response to concerns.

A PACT meeting includes feedback on crimes brought to justice recently, sentences handed down for crimes of key concern to communities and what work has been done by Community Payback teams.

By the end of the meeting we have worked out what the most important priorities are for local people.

Ward Forums are council-run meetings, usually chaired by a Ward Councillor. In our area there is often a PACT element to them and it is a good opportunity for us to check that our priorities are up to date.

There are plenty of reasons for people not to be able to go to a meeting in person. We are making increasing use of Electronic PACT or Ward Forums, running simultaneously with the live event.

This means you can have your say wherever you are. We advertise these with leaflets and using social media in the run up to the meeting and the content is available for anyone to see after the meeting.

Surgeries and “drop ins” are also held every week in various places. Details are on our website, but include for example, Wednesday morning 10am to 11am, Hebden Bridge Library.

Our Police Community Support Officers keep in regular touch with Neighbourhood Watches. Often we are issuing information, but it is another way to get feedback.

We have a sound working relationship with our councillors and I take a telephone call or an email every few days at least, asking for updates about something.

We work closely with partners from the council, housing providers, the Fire Service and others on Action Days. Recently we came together for the day in Longfield in Todmorden talking to local people and checking that all was well on the estate, which it was.

Policing at a local level is only done with the consent of the public and we want to be tackling things that matter locally.

The needs of Todmorden are different to those of Mytholmroyd and our local priorities need to reflect that. Getting those priorities right, taking positive action and letting people know what we’ve done is crucial to maintaining levels of confidence in the police and council partnership.

I know I’ve said it before in this series of articles, but if local people tell us what’s going on, we will do the rest. We will carry on actively seeking out your views and setting local priorities on the basis of local consultation.

- At the recent Handmade Parade in Hebden Bridge I was struck by the diverse nature of the huge crowds, all drawn together with an apparent common desire to demonstrate how people were pulling together after the 2012 floods to get things back on track.

There is a genuine understanding in this area which is a real strength and enables all sorts of interesting events to happen. Because people in this area work together, tempers flare up only rarely. That means that fewer people are victims of violent crime and that means that people living in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge are both safe and entitled to feel safe.

We can’t be complacent, however. The police and council partnership is always on the look out for how the demographics of the area is changing and trying hard to make sure that all parts of our community have a voice that is heard. The system of scrutiny panels that checks on, for example, the standard of investigations into ‘hate’ crimes is embedded into local policing and will continue so that local people can continue to have high levels of confidence in their local police.

Next month I’ll be looking at violent crime and property crime, which are at a great, low level round here. In the meantime why not take a look at the Upper Valley NPT Facebook site and you can see some of the work we’re doing that is making a difference in this area?