The Pembrokeshire Herald spends a day with the Haverfordwest Neighbourhood Policing Team
IT IS VERY EASY to think of the police as an entity in place to fix crime when it happens. Sometimes it slips our minds that a major role of our police force is to prevent crime before it strikes. Designated police officers gather from every station, specifically targeting the prevention of crime and these officers work in the Neighbourhood Police Team.
Sgt Catrin Thomas is the head of a team of four other police constables, along with six police community support officers that make up Haverfordwest’s Neighbourhood force. This team of officers have the responsibility of actively approaching the public in Haverfordwest’s very large geographical area. The town is just the beginning.
Every police officer has a responsibility to protect the public in an emergency situation. If a 999 call comes in then the attention of the officer is immediately prioritised to the alert at hand. The Neighbourhood Policing Team is given a daily brief as to any concerns that the public might have. These concerns may be raised in a well-populated area, or they may be raised in a rural and isolated part of the Haverfordwest sector. All concerns are taken seriously and no report from the public is taken as a ‘waste of time’.
In order to begin to understand the effort of the team, I joined two officers in a visit to a well-established stable in Camrose, to engage with the proprietor.The officers were welcomed as friends due to their continued support of the establishment. PCSO Jude Parr is a keen equestrian herself and the genuine concern, also displayed by PC Simon Davies, is blatantly obvious from the moment they arrived at the premises. These officers were both approachable and genuine and demonstrated that a crime does not have to be committed to build a relationship with the people that often need them the most, when a police station may not be ‘just around the corner’.
There are rural organisations that the team help to maintain. These entities are often not even heard of by the general public. Most people have heard of Neighbourhood Watch but few could claim to know of organisations such as ‘Farm Watch’ and ‘Horse Watch’ that are in place to monitor theft and vandalism of rural enterprises and homes. This idea would not be so successful if it was not for the community officers that help to spread the information needed by the community.
The very presence of officers in rural areas has given individuals the confidence to raise concerns that otherwise would have remained unspoken.
Back in the centre of town, officers are patrolling the streets attempting to create the same approachability that the rural officers achieve. Every day police officers, such as Rachel Wall and Liam Woodford, step out into the public to affirm the goals of the team. To create an approachable and friendly presence that will always take the public seriously. Rachel and Liam (Liam in particular) may seem a little camera shy but they do what they are employed to do. They do it very well.
Whilst joining the two officers around the town of Haverfordwest, it is obvious that they have a wonderful rapport with the people. Rachel and Liam take the time to speak to the general public and the proprietors of local businesses to take action against any concerns that may be present. It is refreshing to see the genuine look on a member of the public’s face when they know that there is someone there to take them seriously.
Back at the station, Ben Thomas, a local volunteer, explained to me the confidence he has built over his short time with the police. Ben is new to the team but he is training to take on the paperwork that sometimes makes a practical job very difficult. He demonstrates very well the fact that all sorts of ingredients make a good product.
Sgt Catrin Thomas obviously cares a lot for her colleagues and for the public that the team stands for. Dyfed Powys area has the least crime of any area in Wales as Catrin explains. In maintaining a community based police force the public can continue to feel in the county that they live in. I must admit, after a day with this team, I certainly believe that to be true.
Do not be afraid to contact your local police force if you have a concern. All of the public will be taken seriously and you have a local team to back you up and help. Please call 101 from your telephone or stop an officer. After all, they are there to help and not to intimidate.