It was towards the end of 2017 that I had picked up on many local crime issues that were being posted on the "SoBo" Facebook page for Southbourne residents and friends. This lead me to create a separate Facebook group specifically for people to mention issues that were happening or had happened, which I named as BH6-CAT. You can read the story behind the naming of BH6-CAT.
From that point I began to reach out and get more involved, using Social Media to make contact and to show what we were doing to help and inform each other.
Local Policing Meetings
I was then invited to attend a neighbour policing meeting that the Pokesdown traders had organised. That was very enlightening in many ways. To hear what the Pokesdown traders have to endure with regards petty crime was a bit of a shock, as someone who sits pretty at their desk in an office miles away. It was also the first time I have heard directly from Police officers about the successes they are having, the on-going investigations and cases, plus the constraints they are under in terms of resources and actions that they can take.
I had already met the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and the notes from both meetings were reported to the SoBo group and they were received quite positively. To be honest, it was the first real communication that many people have had. I make the point that the local police do attend community meetings, such as the Southbourne Forum, but Social Media is an easy outlet for people to voice their sentiments, positive or otherwise.
I noticed that in 2018 that the Bournemouth East Police team are making more use of Social Media. I'm sure it is a new, and an additional, task for them to deal with, but the outputs have been well received. This sort of digital transformation would be natural nor maybe comfortable initially, but with support from the Dorset Police Force, as well as the local community I hope the effectiveness will increase very quickly.
The Importance of Reporting Crime
One very important fact that bears repeating here, as done so on Facebook, is that people should report all issues of crime whether they think it is minor or not. Emergencies should be reported via 999 immediately but other issues can be done via the Do It Online page of the Dorset Police website.
The Policing team have said it is important to do so, so we have a clear picture of what's going on, the resources that may be required and therefore asked for, and the value of the intelligence it can bring. Some people don't think it's worth doing unless they need a crime number to make an insurance claim. Thankfully more of the group members understand this and promptly ask people to do so.
What I constantly read from members is that they want to see more of a presence of Police officers on the ground, especially when there are spates of lead thefts, car damage and so on. I also read in the news of online crime where people can be defrauded of tens of thousands of pounds very quickly. That area of crime poses less risks for "real" organised criminals with greater rewards compared to burglary at the commercial or residential property level.
Communications is Key
That's a National policy level issue that isn't going to rapidly change, but what can change quickly is the communications between the Police and the Community, which will be one step forward in building those relationships. I certainly see that improving but it also means that we, the public, need to lean in and get involved also.
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