Police link with young transformed East Chesterton – MPs told
January 16, 2012
MP Julian Huppert has impressed upon Parliament the importance of policing on the ground, citing work in Cambridge’s East Chesterton as an example of “brilliant innovation”.
Julian, who was formerly an East Chesterton county councillor, told how the police worked with young people who were committing anti-social behaviour to transform that “relatively deprived part of Cambridge”.
He said: “I would love to claim credit for all the brilliant innovations in that ward.” But he added, they were largely driven by former East Chesterton Community Beat Manager, PC Nick Percival who introduced a range of measures to make a difference.
“What matters in policing concerns what happens on the ground and with individuals,” Julian told a debate on policing in Westminster Hall yesterday (Thursday, January 12). “He created a link with young people. That is important, especially when looking at the factors that led indirectly to the riots.
“In his first year on the beat, he managed to halve the amount of anti social behaviour and crime that was reported, which was a huge achievement,” he said.
“If all our officers could manage such things – I realise that it is not that simple – this country would be a different place. He also managed to arrest fewer people than was usual for that area. Some saw that as a criticism, but I saw it as a great triumph. Successful policing involves reducing the level of crime, and a greater number of arrests is not the aim.”
Julian told how PC Percival launched a scheme to deter youngsters from anti social behaviour such as causing trouble and smashing up bus shelters.
Those that behaved well were rewarded with vouchers and the youngsters with the most vouchers at the end of the school summer holiday received £15 to spend in the local shopping centre.
“That was a cheap measure, and it transformed the area,” said Julian. “Rather than having groups wandering around feeling bored, people would play and hope that a police officer would walk by. They desperately hoped that the cop would come over and find them, and they would say, ‘Hi PC Nick, good to see you.’ It would be fantastic to see that sort of relationship in more areas.”
East Chesterton resident, Clare Blair said: “This was on the face of it, a very simple idea but it had huge benefits for the people of East Chesterton.
“This initiative struck a chord with the youngsters and they responded out of respect for PC Percival, who is now a Detective Inspector. It would be good to see ideas such as this put into practice across the country to tackle anti social behaviour hotspots.”