POLICE need to be seen as human rather than a motorcar’, according to the majority of residents living in the Glebe.
The issue of police visibility, crime prevention and ‘police ineffectual’ were just three of the major concerns raised following a Consultation survey carried out by the Glebeside Community Association on local people’s views of community policing in the area.
Speaking during a recent District Policing Partnership meeting held in Cloughmills last week, David Gilliland, who compiled the survey explained: “In 2009 Glebeside Community Association launch its Community Action Plan. When drafting this plan it became clear that relationships between community and police needed exploration - people were unhappy about policing.
“To put it mildly, the relationship between the Glebeside community and the police has at times been tense and it came through strongly in the Action Plan consultations that work was required to change this situation, if only for everyone to get a better understanding of each others position.
“Significant actions were therefore identified including meeting with relevant agencies to identify ways to raise confidence in community policing as well as developing and maintaining links with community police.”
Mr Gilliland then highlighted the demographics of the Glebe explaining that it was the largest area in the borough with 682 dwellings spread across three wards.
He also explained how crime had become a concern with 501 recorded incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour from 2006/7 to 2009/10 plus 97 recorded incidents of domestic abuse from 2005/6 to 2009/10.
“As a result a survey was conducted between July and October 2010 which included a survey and discussions. Initially self-completion postal questionnaires were delivered to 672 households in the Glebeside estate to gain basic information on the communities view of policing and the DPP.
“A total of 205 questionnaires were returned to the Post Office box, a response of 30.1%. Of these 92 (44.9%) were completed by male respondents, and 113 (55.1%) were from female respondents.
“The results were then discussed with four Focus Groups including seniors, young people, males and ex-combatants. Semi-structured interviews were also held.”
Outlining the key findings, Mr Gilliland said: “It was evident from the survey and discussions within both the Focus Groups and the interviews held that the most significant area of debate was around the lack of visibility of the police in the estate.
“Many participants claimed that they only saw the police when the van or car drove through and rarely saw them patrolling the area on foot – the age-old concept of beat policing.
“There was a general consensus that this eroded confidence as the community are unable to meet the police face to face.
“‘Rather than sneak in about in a car, wouldn’t they be better getting out of the car and walk around the estate’ said one male participant aged (25-40). He added ‘They need to be seen as human rather than a motorcar’.
“It is therefore important that those responsible for policing explore ways to increase the visibility of the officers operating within the area.”
Another key concern was crime and the prevention of crime. He explained that as with many communities the perception of crime was worse than the reality, however stated that the community had the perception that ‘police are ineffectual’. He stated: “Within the responses to this survey the community identified the issues that concern them
most in terms of their impact on quality of life. For some within the community there are concerns that the PSNI is not sufficiently successful in dealing with those committing crime – particularly on anti-social behaviour issues. One respondent said: ‘I don’t have a lot of faith in them but I would like to have’.
“A particular concern expressed by a number of respondents was response times by PSNI to crime reports, with many voicing frustration about the delays in officers coming to their assistance.
“PSNI/DPP should explore ways to deliver policing to more effectively meet the concerns of local community. Policing priorities need to include issues identified within the community as causes of concern.”
He concluded: “It was evident that more work needs to be done, not just by the PSNI but by the local community.
The questionnaires, focus groups and interviews have provided a broad range of responses to the issue, and these
responses can better assist all parties interested in improving the relationship between those responsible for policing the community and the community they police, as well as helping to shape the policing priorities to more effectively meet the needs of the community who the police serve.
“We hope that this report can help to move the debate around community policing forward and provide an opportunity for more partnership work, and perhaps more detailed research into how community policing can be delivered more effectively for the benefit of all. It is the case that improvements in policing for the residents of Glebeside can only come about through everyone playing their part in making these improvements and many of those surveyed over the last few months – members of the community, the DPP, the PSNI, ex-combatants and young people included – have indicated their willingness to be involved in making this happen. Hopefully the responses contained within this report can help to provide the starting point.”