Community Safety is Everybody's Business in North Herts
Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd saw ‘Everybody’s Business’ in action during his most recent District Day in North Herts.

The Commissioner visited North Herts on Monday (2nd November) and saw how a range of organisations from schools to businesses were engaging with community safety and policing-related issues, making them their own business. The visit was the Commissioner’s latest ‘district day’ – a regular event where he focuses on the crime and community safety-related issues affecting each of the county’s 10 districts and boroughs.

The Commissioner’s day started at Hitchin Police Station, sitting in on the local management meeting, chaired by North Herts Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley, and the Force-wide Daily Management Meeting. Here senior officers discussed the crimes and incidents from the weekend and policing tactics going forward.

His next appointment was at The Priory in Hitchin with representatives from town businesses, including Hitchin BID (Business Improvement District), Hitchin Rangers, and town centre manager Keith Hoskins. The group discussed local policing and community safety issues in North Herts. They also discussed how businesses can support local policing with such schemes as the Employer Supported Policing, through which firms can give staff time each month to volunteer as Special Constables. The Commissioner is keen to support Specials and other volunteers who give up their time to help keep the community safe.

From there the Commissioner travelled to Garden City Academy in Letchworth to have lunch with schoolchildren who had been awarded for their work in the community. Year 4 Ash Class were given the Good Neighbour Award at the Comet Community Awards 2015 for a class project that encouraged local residents to keep their neighbourhood clean and tidy. The class spent time litter collecting and planting around Jackmans estate, and worked on posters asking dog walkers to clear up any fouling left by their pet while out and about. This was funded through the North Herts Community Safety Partnership.

Headteacher Jenny Redgrove said: “We are incredibly proud of our children and the effort that they gave to this project and the local community. It is certainly a project that we, as a school, will continue to be involved in. We are delighted that their efforts have been recognised and the children thoroughly enjoyed their lunch with the Commissioner.”

Next stop on the day was to Jackie’s Drop-in Centre in Norton Way South, which has received a £1,018 grant from the Commissioner’s Community Fund. The Centre provides a drop-in service for more than 200 vulnerable adults with disabilities, providing a range of courses and activities throughout the year. The CCF grant was awarded to facilitate confidential reporting of hate crime within the centre.

Shane Willis, staff member of Jackie’s Drop In, said: “We are a third party reporting centre for Hate Crime, are trained in recognising it and can assist members report it using the True Vision website.  We have had cases that led to prosecution processes. We engage within Safeguarding for adults and work with other professionals to provide learning to help protect our members. The grant from the Commissioners Community Fund enabled us to provide a quiet and confidential area to make Hate Crime reports online to True Vision.”

Staying in Letchworth, the Commissioner then travelled to the council offices for North Herts District Council (NHDC) where he met Council Leader Lynda Needham and Chief Executive David Scholes. The group discussed policing and community safety in the district and the council’s recently-launched Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, which focuses on the needs of the local business community and supporting growth.

For his last appointment of the day, the Commissioner was presented with thank you cards and posters from children and young people who attend the Burns Road Hangout youth club in Royston. The club, managed by NHDC, was awarded a grant last month from the North Herts Community Safety Partnership, of which the Commissioner, the Council and the police are partners on. The funding paid helped pay for outings which NHDC Active Communities Officer Gemma Crosk explained to the Commissioner. The activities aim to help raise young peoples’ self-esteem by encouraging them to push boundaries, take risks and work together as a team.

Afterwards, David Lloyd said: “North Herts is a safe and pleasant place to live and that is in part thanks to the prosperity of its businesses. But behind every business is ultimately a person or group of people, and a crime against a business is effectively a crime against those people. I am keen to support businesses with respect to crime and its prevention and have developed a countywide Business Crime Strategy with this aim. For this reason I was very interested in sharing my views with Hitchin businesses and North Herts District Council.

“This is part of a larger ethos in which all sectors of society play their part in promoting crime prevention and community safety. It was great to see how Ash Class at the Garden City Academy and Jackie’s Drop-in Centre have used funding from my office or the Community Safety Partnership to promote the wellbeing of their respective communities. I was pleased to learn more about their achievements directly and congratulate them personally for their excellent work.”

Cllr Lynda Needham, Leader of NHDC, said: "It was good to have the opportunity to welcome the Police and Crime Commissioner back to North Hertfordshire. His visits provide a chance to discuss issues that affect people locally and give the Council the opportunity to demonstrate the success of some local community projects, including those organised through the North Herts Community Safety Partnership. We also had the chance to look at ways we can work together in the future, particularly focussing on the needs of local businesses and supporting growth."