Have you ever wondered what the police do behind the scenes or how they prioritise issues in your area?
Greater Manchester Police recently began a new initiative where members of the public could go out on the beat and share the experience via social media, as community reporter.
I decided to apply as I was intrigued as to what the role of police officer in my local area (Sale West) would be and how they play their part in keeping our community safe and crime free.
The first community reporter, Harriet Blake, went out with the police in Chorlton and shared her experiences via Youtube and a blog post on Netmums.
As you can see Harriet really got behind the scenes, had a camera crew, attended a team brief and also met with Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.
I was very excited and a little nervous when I received an email in April telling me I had been successful and a date would be made for me to go out with local police.
After a long wait I finally got an email asking me to be at Altrincham Police Station on Wednesday June 19 at noon and also to sign and return the disclaimer, indemnity and other related documents attached.
It was at this point that I began to realise that my experience was not going to be at all like the one portrayed by Harriet.
No camera crew for me, no team brief and certainly no meeting with the Deputy Chief Constable.
Arriving at Altrincham Police Station around 11.30am, I was greeted by the officer on the desk who then went to find out who was expecting me. Having no name as reference this took a while.Eventually I was informed that someone had forgotten to pass the information on regarding my visit and they couldn’t actually accommodate me that afternoon.
The officers that I spoke to had not heard of the community reporter role and I had to explain why I wanted to go out with them also, why I had specifically asked for Sale West.
I explained that the role of community reporter was something the police had initiated and that I was to share my experience on social media. I clarified the choice of area by pointing out that I am co-founder of SaleWestVoice and, having recently shared my experience of visiting the cctv office covering Sale West it seemed a logical choice.
We rearranged for Friday June 21 at 10am and I was assured that I would accompany an officer in and around Sale West, perhaps focussing on fly tipping and bike crime as they are among the current issues faced.
Friday morning was crisp and bright as I once again set off for the police station, this time I was indeed met by an officer who was to take me out on patrol around Sale West and discuss what the police are doing to keep us safe.
We set off towards Sale and were soon on the estate where we drove around as the officer explained that he was looking for suspicious vehicles or anything else untoward as is part of the daily routine.
I am happy to say that there were no suspicious vehicles and all was peaceful and quiet.
Whilst we were on patrol in the car a motorist flagged us down to say that she had seen a man acting suspiciously nearby. After taking a description of the male and the reason for her concern the officer thanked her and went to look for him.
I asked on what grounds would he stop the man, should we find him and he explained that whilst the police can not stop anyone without a valid reason, the fact that he had been reported as acting suspicious was reason enough and, if found, the man would be stopped and possibly searched.
We did not find the man and nothing else was reported whilst we were out, other than an older resident expressing his concerns about the speed some people drive down Firsway which, I have to agree, is a valid point.
The officer and I discussed the fact that bike theft is a problem and he advised me that anyone who owns a bike can register it online with immobilise.com. If your bike is then stolen you have a much greater chance at getting it back, when it is unregistered it can be harder, sometimes even impossible to match it back with the rightful owner.
Registering only takes a few minutes and could save you a lot of hassle, not to mention cash. You can also register other gadgets on the site, click on the link above for more details.
Addressing fly tipping is an ongoing issue and there are many incidents of it taking place in and around Sale West. Not only is it an eyesore and a blight on the community as a whole, it is also an offence which can lead to a fine or imprisonment.
Fly tipping can be reported via the council website, and they have a rapid response unit available in all areas to deal with rubbish dumped on council land. As much of the rubbish is actually left on Irwell Valley land this can become an issue and should be reported to them directly.
The officer that took me on patrol was very professional and was happy to offer general advice on crime and communities. He pointed out that the key to low crime includes a strong community where everyone pulls together, having respect for each other as well as the immediate environment.
We finished our patrol just after lunch time and returned to Altrincham station, marking the end of my time on the beat….
I wish I could share more about what goes on behind the scenes, or what future plans the police have for Sale West. The fact is I can’t because I just don’t know. Whilst my time out with the police was interesting and totally different to my usual Friday morning, it wasn’t quite what I had imagined.
On a brighter note there is lots of useful information on display at the station, here are some links that you may find useful:
- INTERNET FRAUD AND SCAMS…If you have been affected by a fraudster or online scam you can report it to Action Fraud 24 hours a day, seven days a week on action fraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 1232 040. The website also lists a handy A-Z of different fraud types as well as their Top Tips to protect yourself from fraud.
- DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998…The ACT covers personal information from which an individual may be identified. The information may be held on computers, other applications which process information automatically, paper records and other media, such as video and cctv. The police use personal information for a variety of purposes. In addition to holding personal information for the prevention and detection of crime, apprehending and prosecuting offenders, public safety, maintaining criminal record disposal histories and investigative and intelligence purposes.This information may be shared with other agencies and individuals, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REQUEST ACCESS TO ANY INFORMATION THAT YOU BELIEVE THE FORCE MAY HOLD ABOUT YOU AND TO BE TOLD WHAT IT IS TO BE USED FOR. To request this information simply visit THIS PAGE and download the application form, returning it to the address shown.
- VIOLENCE…If you, or someone you know is at risk of violence from a partner YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK about an individual who you think may have a violent past. “Claire’s Law’ can be used by anyone and is a new scheme to protect victims of domestic violence. For more information on requesting a disclosure under this scheme visit gmp.police.uk or endthefear.co.uk.
On a final note, much of the intelligence the police rely on comes via CRIMESTOPPERS. They are also available on 0800 555 111 and any information can be given anonymously…..
Pic of police emblem with thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/jza84/ via creative commons.:)