Focus on rural issues in St Albans District Day
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire David Lloyd, spent the day in and around St Albans on Wednesday (17th February) finding out about key policing issues in the district. The Commissioner visited a number of sites in and around the town as part of his 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 day’s meetings began with a rural theme, discussing nuisance crimes such as fly tipping, fly grazing and hare coursing, the illegal act of dogs unleashed to chase hares on unsolicited land. Reports from the recent fly grazing seminar in December and fly tipping working group in January provided a useful starting point in meeting representatives from St Albans District Council to discuss the latest progress in partnerships in this area. Collaborations between Hertfordshire County Council and the Police are supported and encouraged by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, with recommendations currently underway for a countywide fly-grazing protocol and proposed single point of contact for the public in reporting these nuisance crimes.
A later visit to nearby family-run Nashes Farm provided a welcome insight into grass roots rural issues and police support of the rural community. Discussion led from the latest crime trends in hare coursing to wider impact of such crimes on the local area including fly tipping, damage to land and crops, theft, security and links to wider gambling and organised crime. Residents are already working closely with police and gave notable praise for existing rural policing support.   
The Commissioner headed next to Alban Way, the six-mile footpath between St Albans Abbey and Hatfield House to see rehabilitation project ‘Community Payback’ in action.  The project sees offenders undertake visible unpaid work in the local community, generated from public consultation.  Created by Probation and endorsed as part of the Commissioner's Police and Crime Plan, the project is a step towards ensuring the public and victims have their say on payback and rehabilitation. Speaking to offenders, the Commissioner learned first-hand from offenders litter picking on the footpath how the scheme has instilled a sense of public accountability for their actions, supported by a positive public response to seeing offenders actively giving back to the local community.

A drop in at one of the three main mosques in St Albans was the next stop, visiting an Islamic Centre in Hatfield Road to discuss relationships with police and understand any issues of local concern. The centre, funded entirely by the local community, has recently expanded with an extension into new buildings and renovation of key facilities. With St Albans understood to be the second largest Muslim community in Hertfordshire, the centre currently welcomes approximately 16 different nationalities on site as a local place of worship. Mr Akthar Zaman reported a good on-going dialogue with local officers, and said recent Open Days have cemented the centre’s open, accessible and inclusive ethos with the local community.
Afterwards, Commissioner Lloyd said: “I am always keen to see the work of the agencies, partners, and volunteers who are helping to keep the county such a safe place to live. My district days allow me to look in depth at each of the county’s ten districts and boroughs and this was no exception. I would like to thank all those I met during the day for taking the time to discuss the policing and crime issues affecting their communities.
“I was especially keen to hear about the work on fly-tipping and fly-grazing, two issues which have been brought to my attention by the public. When an issue is raised by a local community I like to ensure that we tackle the problem. Working in collaboration with St Albans District Council we hope to identify and isolate these nuisance crimes and provide the right support for the public when reporting them.”