My community day in and around Market Harborough on 19 October began with a visit to Little Bowden Park. I met with Cllr Peter James, who was keen to discuss with me some of the issues bothering residents who live nearby.
We talked about late night noise from youths who gather here – amazingly in groups of over 200 on occasion – as well as litter, vandalism and other issues. Cllr James showed me the CCTV in the park but clearly there were blind spots not covered by the cameras. Cllr James wondered if it might be possible for there to be some sort of curfew imposed on the park. I suggested that a Public Space Protection Order might be the way forward as that would allow conditions to be imposed on the use of the park. That is a matter for the Council, however, the role of the park wardens and perhaps the police would be to enforce it once it was in place.
Cllr James and I then moved on to the road outside Little Bowden School. This road is narrow, curved and lined by parked cars. There is a concern among some parents that the traffic goes too fast for the safety of the young children. Having watched the traffic for some time, I tended to agree. We decided that a visit from Community Speed Watch would be the best place to start. Once that had been organised, the results could be reviewed and next steps looked at.
By this time it had begun to rain quite steadily, so I was grateful that my next visit was at an inside venue. This was with Falcon Support Services, a charity which provides services for those suffering mental health issues, homelessness and problems coping with the pressures of modern life.
Early intervention can reduce crime, but it’s never too late to ask for help. Falcon Support Services and Beacon Care work in partnership to help support those struggling with Mental Health, Substance Misuse issues, financial difficulties, homelessness and much more. There are many reasons why people commit crime and effective crime prevention means tackling all of them.
I then moved on to the Insomnia Café to meet with Cllr Buddy Anderson, Harborough Council’s Young Person’s Champion. He has been in post only a few weeks, but was already brimming with a host of ideas about how to improve the life chances of children from the borough. Being new in post, Cllr Anderson has not really had a chance to get his plans into place yet, so we agreed to meet again in 2 or 3 months to catch up and see how we can best co-operate.
It was then time to meet the Leader of Harborough Council, Cllr Phil Knowles. We discussed his concerns about the growing population of the area and the need to provide effective policing. I was able to reassure him that police numbers had been increasing in recent years. But high-tech modern policing can deliver improvements without increasing officer numbers. One officer standing on a street corner can see three or four streets, but one monitoring CCTV can watch three or four dozen.
It was then on to Mowsley. These sorts of lovely rural villages too often get dismissed as low crime areas and that’s the end of it. Since I brought in the Rural Policing Unit these country areas have finally been getting the attention that they deserve. While there I took the opportunity to have a look at road safety – having received a few comments. All seemed in order, I’m pleased to say – though as ever I’m willing to listen to those with a different view.
Finally I headed to South Kilworth. This village has the distinction of never having passed across my desk. I’ve never had an email, letter, phone call or crime report from this place. So I thought I’d go to see if it really is as quiet as it seems. I spoke to the butcher and his staff, as well as going around knocking on doors. It turned out that there had been a domestic burglary there a few years ago, but no real trouble since.