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Bobbies beat path to success

WHEN it comes to being the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood, the beat bobbies from Accrington Police Station are in the front line.

PCSO Wayne Smith out on the beat in the community.
PCSO Wayne Smith out on the beat in the community.

WHEN it comes to being the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood, the beat bobbies from Accrington Police Station are in the front line.

And the officers that make up the five-strong team of community beat managers - covering Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Huncoat, Church, Altham and Baxenden - say they wouldn't have it any other way.

Since the policing scheme was introduced to Hyndburn nearly two years ago, officers have secured huge reductions in problems such as juvenile nuisance, drugs and anti-social behaviour, winning the trust of the public in the process.

And they hope to build on this even more if a bid by Lancashire's Chief Constable, Paul Stephenson, to recruit more community beat managers is successful.

PC Tracey Finn, the borough's first beat bobby, thinks the public have welcomed the return to traditional-style policing, complete with street patrols and regular contact with residents.

In her time covering Oswaldtwistle, she has set up five Neighbourhood Watch groups, organised drugs awareness classes at Rhyddings High School, co-ordinated test purchases and even become a governor of West End Primary School.

She said: "The public want to see a police officer on the beat and know there is somebody in their area concerned with their safety."

"If they speak to an officer about a problem, they want to be able to speak to the same officer again - someone who knows what's been going on. It is all about building up a relationship with them and I have made a lot of friends."

"We want the communities to help the police and learn to accept responsibility for community problems. If we all work together then we can make a difference."

It is a view shared by her colleagues in the community beat team, which also boasts a part-time community beat manager, PC Clare Wall, and three community support officers.

All have their own success stories from the past 18 months and regularly receive thank-you letters from residents.

In Woodnook, PC Lynne Williams has secured a dramatic turnaround in the drugs problems that have plagued an area where many residents were initially too frightened to come forward. PC Mick Walsh and PCSO Wayne Smith have reported a similar success in the war against anti-social behaviour in Spring Hill.

PC Rachel Carbery, who looks after Huncoat and Accrington's Peel ward, has seen levels of criminal damage drop by as much as 73 per cent in her area, and PC Lisa Evans - who only joined the team a month ago - has already started to make an impact in Church and Milnshaw.

Sergeant Bob Eaton, who oversees the team, thinks that with extra officers they could make even more of a difference.

Explaining that he wants to see one CBM for every ward, he said: "The community beat managers and PCSOs are accessible - they find out what is happening in our communities, what the problems are and what the law-abiding public need from the police."

"I have asked the CBMs to aim to be respected figures of authority within communities that trust them and have confidence in them. That is asking a lot on both sides but we are getting there."

"The public are beginning to regain confidence in their police and understand that they control their own communities. We have opened the floodgates and the public have made it quite clear that they want more."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist