Sunday, 16 November 2008

Community policing

We have had a little bit of excitement this weekend, if you can call it that! I arrived at Ian's on Friday evening at about quarter to nine with my bike and he went to take it round to his garage as usual. He came back a few moments later to say that he couldn't open his garage door as the lock had been bent and it looked like at least three of the other garages had been broken into as the doors were open. The garages are behind the flats and as they were built in the 1960s no one worried about lighting or security at the time so they are an easy target on a dark evening for people looking for an illegal way to make a few pounds to fund their evening's entertainment. After a quick debate and a discussion with one of the sensible neighbours we decided to report it to the police. Now we were aware that this was not a life threatening emergency so we initially called the community support officer on his mobile (where I live they call them teletubbies because they are dressed in yellow and round!) Anyway, he did not reply so we tried the local police station. However that is closed at the weekend and they are looking for community volunteers to staff it! In desperation then we called the emergency services! Fortunately they put us through to our local 'call centre' and we reported it. We were then told that this would be dealt with by the 'telephone investigation unit' and we duly called the following morning by said service and had to repeat all the details again!

After this Ian dropped a note into the doors of all the neighbours telling them what had happened and asking them to check that nothing was missing, resulting in a flurry of activity around the garages. Many of Ian's neighbours are elderly and a bit upset so within seconds some one's son arrived and another lady came over wearing her nightdress, giving the whole thing the air of a pyjama party. They had rummaged through one lady's garage and gone through her personal possessions but she couldn't tell if anything had been taken.

As we were leaving to go shopping for a lock and a security light the 'scene of crime' officer arrived; a woman in her 30s. Predictably there was nothing for her to examine. She told us that what she really needs is blood so that she can get a DNA sample and that although we weren't to say that she told us, the best way to protect the garage door and make her job easier was to put a strip of carpet gripper along the bottom edge!

In the evening the doorbell rang and the two police community support officers were there to introduce themselves and tell us all about their job! It was my introduction to modern policing in the Met!

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