Commissioner heads to Three Rivers for latest District Day
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, spent the day in and around Three Rivers District on Monday (29th February) finding out about key policing issues. The Commissioner was in Rickmansworth, Chorleywood and Mill End for his latest ‘district day’ – regular diary time in which he focuses on the crime and community safety-related issues affecting each of the county’s 10 districts and boroughs.
The Commissioner’s day began at Three Rivers District Council, meeting leader Cllr Ann Shaw and Community Safety lead Cllr Roger Seabourne as they reported back on the latest issues raised by local residents. Despite very low crime levels in the district, a request was made from residents to see a more consistent public facing police presence in Rickmansworth Police Station - face to face contact to deal with day-to-day enquiries. The responsiveness of local officers was also praised by the duo, enabling them to provide quick and clear responses to community questions with easy to understand supporting rationale from local police.
Regulating the use of public spaces by dog owners was the topic of conversation with Chorleywood Parish Council, who shared the latest on their Public Space Protection Orders to combat on-going related dog issues such as fouling, use of leads, exclusions zones and to monitor the number of users, particularly professional dog walkers. For the first time, the PSPO enables councils with powers to monitor and enforce against persistent offenders in publicly used spaces.  With a clear focus on educating and changing long term behaviours of habitual offenders, the scheme will also utilise the hours and resources of Police Community Support Officers to monitor hotspots at part of their regular patrols. Despite the PSPO providing the opportunity for fixed penalties to be enforced, the focus remains on heightened awareness and on the spot education to encourage a united care for the space to ensure it remains safe for all local users.
A scheme working loosely in the same vein but with application to anti-social behaviour was up next as the Commissioner visited Barn Lea in Mill End, a traditional hotspot for antisocial behaviour to find out about the impact of recently introduced Acceptable Behaviour Agreements (ABA) on the area.  Introduced under a partnership between Hertfordshire Police, Youth Connexions and Three Rivers District Council, the behaviour orders encourage proactive stance – to curb behaviour early on, break habits and steer potential offenders towards the right path. The partnership can deal with on average 20 cases a week, providing support with social, health, education and home issues to great success in its initial launch.
Following this meeting and further discussion with local businesses on their experience of the Acceptable Behaviour Agreements to date, Commissioner Lloyd said: “Even at the early stages of their use, ABA’s are proving they have a direct positive effect on the young individuals they serve, their families and also the wider community and local business. The joining of agencies and shared information means simply, we are nipping these issues in the bud much earlier than before.
"My visit to Barn Lea showed that the grass roots support of the partnership by our PSCOs in these communities means we are reaching the right people, at an earlier time, to help. My visit reinforced my view that visible, open and accessible neighbourhood policing is the most effective model and that PCSOs are an important part of the team."
Following a quick briefing with CI Deidre Dent at Rickmansworth Police Station, the final stop of the day was to visit Watford MENCAP, an independent self-financing local charity supporting those with learning disabilities in Watford, Three Rivers and Hertsmere. Conversation surrounded the new ‘ThinkSafe’ Partnership scheme running with Police and Fire service - a tailor made programme educating people with learning disabilities about safety in the home and within the wider community.
Forming part of the Community Safety Action Plan, the tutorials run by local police officers help empower users by giving them the knowledge to understand safety issues and take the fear out of engaging with emergency services. Suggestions were raised to incorporate use of the ‘ThinkSafe’ name across front line contact and communications within the police force as a general means of identifying people with learning difficulties as they come into contact with police to make it a positive experience.