Community Safety Meeting
Tuesday, 7 January 2014, 19:30pm
102 people attended an informal meeting at Maulden Village Hill to discuss community reaction to the above average incidence of burglary in the village in December 2013. Simon Barnes organised the event, supported by Roger Ball (of Maulden Voice, a Village Facebook Group with 1,378 members) and David Bailey (secretary to meeting).
Recognising that each individual incident is a tragedy for the family involved, the attendees were strongly in support of measures to deter and detect crime in the village in future so as to reduce the number of crimes suffered and fear of crime in the Village.
Simon Barnes introduced Cllr Paul Duckett who was able to give an inspiring example of the success of Street Watch in Ampthill. From a situation in the early 1980’s, when Ampthill was rather “rough” of an evening, Street Watch (although it was founded quite recently) has been one of the factors that has made Ampthill the quiet haven that it is today.
StreetWatch members get training, equipment and support from the local Police, and are required only to patrol and to report, rather than intervene. The mere presence of sensible, usually older, people, has a notable calming effect on an area. In a long village such as Maulden, around 12 people would be needed to provide coverage.
- 21 people volunteered during the meeting to launch and run a Street Watch for Maulden.
Our local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, explained the simple steps and large benefits of joining Neighbourhood Watch. [edited]
Bringing both together, Simon Barnes was able to read out a very powerful message from the Ampthill Community Safety Group, and to invite people to form such a group for Maulden.
A CSG would enable follow up of events and reports, and help co-ordinate other interested groups. The combination of NHW (as a means of supporting neighbours and providing visible deterrence) and SW (as a means of providing coverage at times of peak risk and outside homes) was felt to naturally compliment the formation of a CSG (which could follow up events and provide intelligence and liaison with Police and local authority departments).
- 9 people stepped up asked for more information on how to form a CSG.
In total, around 42 roles were filled by volunteers from the Village and area; and outstanding success and clear expression of the level of concern and commitment.
With a Central Bedfordshire average of 6.98 burglaries per 1,000 homes and around 1,400 homes in Maulden, the long term average would be around 9 thefts in the village per year. Discussing individual incidents bought to light that the village has suffered approximately double the expected number of burglaries for its size in 2013, and that the vast majority occurred in December. This was a worrying development demanding of action. Further, it appeared to have been the work of two groups of thieves. The news that Bedfordshire Police had apprehended one group was well received.
Attendees were pleased to hear from members of the local law enforcement community that we have a strong PCSO group based in Ampthill, managed by Sgt Clare Thomas.
The meeting heard from two people directly affected by the recent burglaries. Great sympathy was expressed for their personal losses and emotional impact of the crimes on their families. They shared their experiences, and tips to help others avoid becoming victims. There was particular shock that the village church had also suffered a serious metal theft in the same period, a crime that was felt to be deeply unwelcome.
Cllr Duckett was made aware of the shared concern that visible police presence appeared to have been withdrawn from Central Bedfordshire villages. It was feared that that the local Police & Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins, may be prioritising the larger area towns. This was born out by anecdotes from local police and related services. There was a call for individual attendees to write to the P&CC and ask for the priorities to be balanced in recognition that villages are particularly vulnerable to mobile thieves without police presence.
Of especial note was the concern that information on suspects was not acted on ahead of a crime, and that the time taken to get to Maulden from local towns directly contributed to one pair of criminals not being apprehended. While respecting the constraints under which the local Police operated, this was felt to be disappointing.
It was noted that three thefts (of materials from drives and gardens) were probably not reported, and the victims were encouraged to do so.
Many people were able to help with simple practical advice on protecting one’s own home.
A vote of thanks was offered to Simon, Roger, Gretel and Cllr Duckett. Additional thanks to those who donated £39 to cover the use of the village hall. Any surplus will be used to fund a future meeting to report back on progress.
Follow Up [10 Jan 2014]
- After the meeting, contact has been made with the local Community Policing Team, The Rector of Maulden Parish Church, Ampthill Community Safety Group and the Parish Council.
- Meetings have been arranged to start a StreetWatch group and a Community Safety Group.
- Further information will be published with progress.