Improving Community Safety

Maulden Moonlit view of the approach to the village under a full moon

Maulden Village Voice
YOUR Community Safety Group

We aim to create a community safety group of volunteers in Maulden Village to enable, enhance and inform the existing volunteer groups in the village.

If we can get this right we can greatly enhance the availability of funding and support for Maulden. That means that we have to create a superb charter for action, a constitution, and a democratically elected and really representative group working in it. We will need excellent relationships and communications with all the local government, Parish Council, and statutory bodies with community safety responsibilities. 

It won’t be easy, we don’t have all the answers, and we need help and wise counsel to do this well.

We won’t be able to do this effectively unless we can find enough people to support the idea, money to finance it, and support from the existing structures in the village (such as Street Watch and the Parish Council).

The first step is to let people know about this idea, and seek feedback, comments and volunteers to make it work better for everyone in the village.

We already have Street Watch and a Speed Watch Group; why this as well?

The existing volunteer groups do an amazing job in each of their specialist areas. No one is proposing to change the management or the roles of existing volunteer groups.

We are extremely lucky to have recently had a dozen people volunteered to make Street watch work. Our speed watch group has been active in reducing the risk to everyone in the village from traffic passing through it.

We support each and every one of these ventures. In some cases the bodies reports to the parish council, in other cases they report by a volunteer body to either the police, or a national voluntary organisation. They all have regional and national bodies to supervise them and provide training and support.

What we are proposing is to bring a common understanding of what is important to Maulden village by listening to everybody in the village, and by providing a democratic body that can not only represent the views of the village, but can provide funding and expertise to make all of the voluntary efforts more effective. On top of that, a community safety group would fill in the last 2 gaps in safety coverage: disasters and emergencies, and vulnerable people.

What are the issues a CSG might solve?

The issues fall into three classes:

  1. lack of local volunteer groups against national recommendations
  2. perceived deficits in terms of community involvement
  3. direct local safety issues

Local volunteer groups

There are national programs to involve members of local communities, particularly those such as Maulden which are moderate sized villages, in all of the following national and regional organisations:

  1. Speed Watch
  2. Street Watch
  3. [edit]
  4. Resilience Forum
  5. Local Police Liaison
  6. Local Fire Liaison
  7. Central Bedfordshire Council
  8. Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charities
  9. Safer Neighbourhoods Team (of CBC)
  10. Farm Watch / Countryside Watch
  11. Crime Beat
  12. Bedfordshire Police And Community Partnership
  13. Aragon Housing
  14. Victim Support
  15. Road Victims Trust

Currently there are only active Maulden village organisations for items 1 to 2 on this list, as far as we can find out. A CSG might help organise and implement those other important services in our community.

Perceived deficits

There is a heightened fear of crime in the village driven by recent burglaries (Winter 2013), a belief that there is a long-standing issue of minor drug dealing in public spaces, and minor vandalism in public spaces. While action is taken by the relevant statutory and local government authorities in each of these cases feedback and information to members of the village is generally of poor quality, slow, and not well disseminated. This has provided fertile ground for misinformation and fear to grow in.

There is a secondary, but important issue, or vulnerable persons in our village (for instance: the elderly, isolated, and disabled members of our community). While many bodies might appear to have responsibility for their well-being, the reality is that all of those bodies also seek local volunteers to extend and enhance the care that can be provided. In emergencies, for instance adverse weather or power outages, there is currently no direct cover that we can locate for vulnerable persons.

Direct local safety issues

The village has experience of direct safety issues over the last few years that have involved un-gritted roads, unsafe structures, unsafe road surfaces, dangerous driving, burglary, street crime, arson, and vandalism. It may be that hygiene issues, such as dog fouling, should be included in this category. In each case, again, action is taken, but usually only after an individual has taken it upon themselves to press the requirement for action with the local council or police.

And one more thing…

Other local CSGs also organise one or more social and community events a year for their communities. Whether it is a Christmas tree or a Summer BBQ, a well run CSG can really help with creating a community spirit in a village.

What evidence do we have that CSGs work?

There are strong community safety groups in Biggleswade, Ampthill, and Marston Mortaine. Each is composed slightly differently, and each has specific focuses, but they are well regarded in their local community and perceived as effective by the relevant statutory bodies. In each of them it is possible to point to direct benefits that they have bought to their local communities.

There is renewed pressure for the creation of good community safety groups in the Localism Act, from the local Police, from Central Bedfordshire Council (especially from the Resilience Forum) and from Bedfordshire Rural Charities. All of these bodies have sufficient expertise and experience to be able to identify the benefits, assist us, and counsel us as we move forward.

There was a moderate degree of interest at the village hall meeting in January, and, at a follow-up meeting in April, we should be able to present an outline of what a community safety group could do, and give far more clarity as to the benefits and requirements.

Who Might Be Involved?

For now, it is almost certainly best that a small core group builds the support network with the local and statutory bodies. One or two individuals who have a positive relationship with the Parish Council should be involved.

This core group needs experience of running charities, drafting constitutions, dealing with local politics, and a reasonable amount of time to invest.

Only once there is a written constitution, mission statement, and outline of the charity should the group be widened by consultation to approximately a dozen individuals.

This wider group would need to include individuals who have access to, and inclination to help with, the provision of key resources (for instance transport, equipment, communications, building networks of contacts).

This wider group would almost certainly include the representatives of:

  1. Street Watch
  2. Speed Watch
  3. [edit]
  4. Resilience Committee
  5. Parish Council
  6. Aragon Housing
  7. Local business

What Can You Do?

Give us feedback on what the good and bad points of a community safety group might be, in your view.

Tell people who don’t read the website about this. We know not everyone does, and we have to involve everyone to make this work properly.

Give us ideas for things a community safety group should focus on.

Volunteer using the CONTACT US page. Tell us what you can do and who you represent and why that will help create a CSG