Commissioner visits grant winners in Watford
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire saw first-hand recently how groups in Watford have made the most of grants from his office – supporting victims of domestic abuse and helping people to turn their lives around.

Commissioner David Lloyd spent the day in Watford for his latest ‘district day’ – a regular event where he focuses on the crime and community safety-related issues affecting one of the county’s 10 districts and boroughs.

On the day (19th March), he visited both the Watford Women’s Centre and Betel of Britain, which has been given a grant for a project to help offenders to give up a life of crime.

The women’s centre offers a range of services to both women and men who have suffered from domestic abuse. It provides courses and workshops ranging from work-related skills to personal development and life coaching. The centre was recently awarded £3,000 from the Commissioner’s Victim Services Fund to fund a research project to map out a merger process between the Watford Women’s Centre and Herts Women’s Centre. The project outcome will include producing a business plan.

Visiting the centre in Market Street, Commissioner Lloyd heard first hand from a group of volunteers how it has helped people cope and recover from domestic abuse.

Tracey Burke, chief executive of the charity, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Commissioner to the Centre. We have been encouraged by his attention and strident energy for confronting domestic abuse in Hertfordshire. His recent CAADA review was a timely and important stage in the battle to save victims lives.”

The Commissioner also visited Betel of Britain, a Christian organisation that manages accommodation for homeless people, offenders coming out of prison and people suffering from addiction. It was awarded more than £3,500 to purchase new landscaping equipment to help train ex-offenders.

Its directors Ian and Jessica Daw told the Commissioner about their ethos and support provided to offenders, living within its community, to help them put crime behind them. Many have learnt both life and employment skills through its support. House leader Andrew Kelsey and resident Wayne Johansen talked about how they had turned their lives around thanks to Betel.

Ian said: “The support from the Commissioner and the Commissioner’s Community Fund to help buy gardening equipment means so much to the men of Betel Watford, many of whom were written off by society and had previous run-ins with the police.

“The Commissioner’s funding will really help our residents learn new skills and provide productive work whilst helping with their recovery. The income generated as a result will also enable those desperately seeking hope from addiction to come to us free of charge. Through it we seek to share hope to the people of Hertfordshire, whilst doing their gardens, as well as build better links with other organisations, including the police.”

Both visits were just part of the district day visit to Watford. For his first appointment of the day, the Commissioner had attended a Year 7 assembly at Watford Grammar School for Boys where he discussed his role and his vision for policing in Hertfordshire.

From there he travelled to Watford Police Station, sat in on the Force’s Daily Management Meeting where significant crimes of the previous 24 hours are discussed and the operational response for the next 24 hours is decided upon. The Commissioner was then briefed on local policing issues by Watford’s Chief Inspector Dave Wheatley before he headed to Watford Borough Council to sit in on a meeting of the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Group. The multi-agency summit was pleased to report that ASB issues across the borough were actively being tackled through a partnership approach. They discussed current and on-going ASB issues, which included some neighbour disputes and fly-tipping, and formulated co-ordinated solutions to the problems, such as issuing warning notices, mediation and working with Watford Community Housing Trust to review tenancies. The group agree to close cases which have been positively resolved.

Lastly, Commissioner Lloyd observed a session at Watford Magistrates’ Court dealing with traffic offences.

Commissioner Lloyd said: “I was delighted to meet face-to-face groups that have benefitted from either my CCF or the Victim Services Fund. Both the Watford Women’s Centre and Betel of Britain have put the money to good use and Watford is an even safer place as a result.”

He added: “This was an excellent day and I am grateful to the police and council partners, as well as the charities, who spoke to me about their work and their experiences. As ever, it proved to be a valuable insight into the area, what concerns there are and what the priorities are for the borough.”