By Ken Maple - 8th September 2005 11:29am
In the past, Audlem was blessed with its own magnificent police station complete with a complement of officers and its own cells in which to keep the offenders until such time as they sobered up, or were put before the magistrates. Gradually, the numbers of staff fell until only one local officer lived in the police station and worked the town. The station was then sold off, and the local officer worked from Nantwich and covered a wide area, thereby further watering down the police service. At last, the tide has begun to change and the level of policing has been improved for the first time in many years. As your new officer I have responsibility for a smaller area than my predecessors and, with changes to the organisation of the force, I am free to spend more of my time out and about on my beat.
After twenty years in Nantwich, coming to Audlem has been something of a culture shock for me, and I have been extremely impressed by the genuine feeling of community that exists within the town and its surrounding area.
I have been made very welcome both by individuals and by the various organisations that work to make the town such an active and interesting place to be. I came to Audlem at a time when people were very concerned about some quite worrying incidents that had occurred locally, including a serious fire and a nasty assault. It was my hope that these incidents were exceptional, and not indicative of the general state of order in the town, and to date I can say that only one further serious incident has occurred since my arrival, and this matter is being dealt with properly.
One thing I have noticed whilst walking around the town is that people come to me and tell me of incidents that have occurred whilst I have not been on duty. When I ask whether they reported them by phone at the time they were happening, the answer is invariably no. The reasons people state for not reporting matters at the time vary from, "Well, I didn't think it was important" to "a waste of time phoning because no-one ever comes". I accept that often there is no immediate response to calls, and this is a symptom of resources being ever further stretched by demand, but I must emphasise the importance of reporting incidents so that they can be properly recorded. In this way, a body of evidence is built up and a case can be made to improve resources for the town.
Remember, you have a say in how your town is policed, and there are regular community action meetings during which you can express your concerns and suggest ways in which matters might be improved. Improvements are happening all the time, and we now have CCTV coverage on the Public Hall car park which, within days of installation, led directly to one individual being formally warned about antisocial behaviour. I have responded to issues raised at community action meetings and I hope that my presence is beginning to make at least a small improvement life in the town.
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