Polish community relations at the heart of Watford District Day
A ‘newcomer’s guide’ about policing and the law in Hertfordshire has been launched following a successful pilot project in Watford encouraging relations between the Polish community and local police.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd learnt about the innovative ‘Polish Project’ and its hands on approach to engage and educate the wider community as part of his latest ‘district day’ – a regular drop in to each of the county’s ten districts and boroughs to focus on crime and community related issues via meetings with local police, education bodies, councils and charities.
Focus for the day was the Watford ‘Polish Project’, born from a trusting relationship between Watford PCSO Linda Davies and project founder Ela Lipinska. Having lived over a decade in the UK, Ela saw an opportunity to use her good contacts in the local Polish community to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for guidance and support on issues such as housing, police and day to day life challenges.
Understanding a need for personal one to one support, translation services and wider general education around cultural differences and similarities, Ela worked with PCSO Linda and Hertfordshire Constabulary to produce the 14 page booklet which specifically focuses on the ‘basics’ of policing and the law,  translated fully into Polish with English versions also available. 
The handy A5 booklet includes chapters on key topics such as Acceptable Behaviour, Weapons, Driving, and Crime Prevention and also provides contact details for police, council, housing associations and also specialist organisations such as the Polish Domestic Violence Helpline, offering confidential help and support to Polish victims of domestic violence and abuse living in the UK.
As well as being a busy mum, Ela dedicates her time to being a Police Support Volunteer with Hertfordshire Constabulary, and after producing the booklet is now sharing key messages with dedicated Polish publications and magazines on a county-wide basis.
Commissioner Lloyd said: “These booklets are a tangible sign of the Polish Project’s excellent involvement in developing good community relations. I commend the proactive approach of Ela and PCSO Linda who have provided tailored need-to-know information. I hope that this will help communities to better understand and to engage with police. This is a great project which, I am sure, will go from strength to strength. “
The Commissioner went on to visit West Herts College to find out more about their ‘Prevent’ strategy; particularly looking at the ways in which college staff engage students in current issues, through innovative online and social media style training modules.
The day ended at New Hope, Watford’s established counter rough sleeping organisation, currently undergoing refurbishment works ahead of a reopen in early August. The centre, which offers help to people who are sleeping rough, sofa surfing or at an immediate risk of homelessness, offers up to 60 people per night a safe place to stay. The centre, based in Queens Road secured funding via the Commissioners Community Safety Grant to install new CCTV on site.
The Commissioner added: “District days are my opportunity to understand issues in your borough or district. They often leave me inspired by the innovative projects and success stories from those I meet. I thank all involved for their time and support in yet another very informative day in the borough.“