Protecting and supporting vulnerable people in Welwyn Hatfield
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, met a host of organisations and projects on Monday (July 27th) that support or protect vulnerable people in Welwyn Hatfield.

The Commissioner spent the day in the borough 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.

During the morning, the group travelled to The Foyer in Hatfield to meet a group of young people who have been taking part in a 12-week Prince’s Trust personal development course called ‘Team’. The programme – for 16-25-year-olds not in education, employment or training – is delivered three times a year by Herts Fire & Rescue Service and funded by North Herts College.

Participants often overcome a range of personal barriers to employment and nationally, more than 70 per cent go on to get jobs, training or education within three months of completing the course. The Commissioner discussed with the group, who are coming to the end of their course, about their experiences and their preparations for their final presentation.

Commissioner Lloyd said: “I am only too aware that having few job prospects because of personal or social issues can lead to a negative spiral of low self-esteem and unemployment. Some young people – but not all – can feel disaffected as a result and be drawn into nuisance behaviour or even crime.

“By addressing these issues upstream with diversionary and training schemes like the Team programme, not only can we help them fulfil their potential but we can also prevent crime before it occurs. I was very impressed by this group of young people and wish them all the very best as they forge successful career paths for themselves over the coming years.”

This theme continued during the morning as the Commissioner spoke to Kerry Clare, who is head of community development at the Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust and chair of the Welwyn Hatfield Anti-Social Behaviour Forum. She updated him about on-going work in the borough to tackle anti-social behaviour and diversionary schemes for children and young people. The Hatfield-based community interest company Child UK discussed some of the diversionary youth services they provide, such as Moonlight Football at Gosling Sports Park.

Councillor Bernard Sarson, the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s Executive Member for Business and Partnerships, joined the Commissioner for the district day, as well as the borough’s Community Safety Manager Matt Rayner and Community Safety Partnerships Co-ordinator Chrystalla Karvella.

Earlier in the day, the group attended Hatfield Police Station to discuss partnership work and local crime-reduction initiatives within the area with the borough’s police Chief Inspector Adam Willmot and Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Jeff Scott.

The group discussed local use of the Online Watch Link (OWL) messaging system for Neighbourhood Watch member and other residents. Police officers use OWL to inform residents about local crimes and give crime prevention advice. They also discussed recent Community Information Days, in which officers from police, fire, Trading Standards, local housing associations and other partners knock on doors in a particular area in order to promote crime prevention and safety in vulnerable communities.

For his last appointment, the Commissioner travelled to a home that Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is planning to house women who have been victims of domestic abuse. Refuge manager Dee Golder told the commissioner about their plans to develop the building into a ‘Second Stage’ accommodation.

Commissioner Lloyd has made tackling domestic abuse a priority since his election and last year commissioned a £50,000-report into provision for victims in the county. He has also funded more than five new independent domestic abuse advisor posts in 2014 and 2015.

Cllr Bernard Sarson said: “The council shares the Commissioner’s determination to tackle domestic abuse.

“We were therefore delighted the Commissioner visited the second-stage women’s refuge which we have funded with Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust, and which will open later this year. Second stage accommodation allows families recovering from domestic abuse to live more independently, and frees space in primary women’s refuges.

“This is the first such facility in Hertfordshire and it’s a model that we would like to see replicated around the county. We will be hosting a Domestic Abuse Conference in 2016 to share best practice across central Hertfordshire.”