We are pleased to be able to welcome a new ‘guest writer’ to the WV11 ranks this week. Our local Police Sergeant, Simon Causer, who is responsible for policing in Wednesfield North and South, as well as part of Fallings Park will be writing periodically for us.
Sgt. Causer’s posts will cover the ins and outs of local policing and over time will give local residents an insight into how their area is policed and exactly what neighbourhood policing teams do.
In the first of Sgt. Causer’s posts we find out a little bit about our local Sgt. (who has 25 years service with West Midlands Police) and why PACT meetings are an important part of policing a neighbourhood.
With this is mind, we will be holding an online Q&A session with Sgt. Causer in the coming weeks, this will allow those who are unable to attend PACT meetings in person to ask questions via WV11.co.uk. Stay tuned for more news on this…
Sgt Causer’s first post: “Action PACT”
My first blog, so sweaty palms and all here goes!
What is PACT?
Why do we have PACT?
Who is it for?
Who benefits from PACT?
A little personal history first! Iâ€™ve got over 25 years service as a Bobby with West Midlands Police. I joined back in September 1985. My first day was September 9th, the day after the Handsworth riots kicked off. Living outside the Force area I was instructed to attend at The Police Training College at Tally Ho, opposite the Edgbaston Cricket Ground on the evening of Sunday 8th September. I was just 19 years old, extremely naÃ¯ve.
â€œNot to worry â€œsaid the PC on the desk,â€This is your room key, drop off your stuff and Iâ€™ll show you the barâ€ I duly did as I was told, he showed me the bar and I nursed my pint of Fosters for the next 2 hours before going to bed
I was in bed at 10. I was young and disciplined back then. Next thing I knew it was about 2.30 am. The air was full of a mix of screaming, shouting, the occasional swear word I hadnâ€™t previously known, and police sirens! I got out of bed to see a mass of faces outside the building, all Bobbies and all rushing about from one van to another â€œWhat have I done?â€ said I, not knowing what was occurring a few miles up the road.
Next morning I got up and bleary eyed, made my way to the lecture theatre where I recognised several faces. All of whom had nursed their pints in the same careful loving manner I had the night before.
It was at this point that a huge monster of a Sergeant introduced himself and explained what was going to happen for the rest of that day and the next 2 weeks of our induction course. Haircuts, uniform â€œfittingsâ€ (thatâ€™s close enough son, youâ€™ll grow into it), and a lesson on bulling your boots so you could see your face in them.
Two weeks later I was off with the rest of the new recruits to Ryton On Dunsmore, Coventry, to the Police Training Centre which was to be home for the next 15 weeks.
Those 15 weeks seem like yesterday. Being beasted around the cross country course by the PT instructor, screamed at on the parade ground by the Drill Instructor. (Mr Causer its left right left right not right left and swing those arms!). Daily kit inspections, daily room inspections and that was before we even started on learning any law.
Back then discipline was everything.
The 15 weeks flew by and I was posted to Chelmsley Wood. Myself and a fellow new recruit Dave Berry were posted to the same team. B unit. Led by an amiable Geordie Inspector Phil English.
Inspector English was God to us back then, only to be spoken to if he spoke to you first.
Dave and I spent the next 10 weeks with our respective Tutor Constables before being given independent patrol A major step for us.
Then came the shock! I was given the Kingshurst as my â€œbeatâ€, Dave was given the Shopping Centre. For the remainder of our 2 year probationary period we were tasked with walking our beats. Earlies, lates and nights, whatever the weather. Sun, rain, snow it didnâ€™t matter. Our Sergeants were Mirfield, Biggs and Irwing. All great blokes. All with their own methods of completing paperwork. Their only tasks for us were making the tea and a minimum of 5 separate pieces of paperwork each day.
It was a tried and trusted method of making sure you didnâ€™t hide and didnâ€™t get rides in the Pandas with your team mates. But most of all it taught you to be self confident, to speak to members of the public. Todayâ€™s management would call it â€œmaking contact with your communityâ€, back then it was simply being a Bobby.
Back then life on the Beat was straightforward, if Mrs Miggins said she had been assaulted by Joe Bloggs, Joe Bloggs got arrested. Simple. If local kids were playing up in the street, you went and had a chat with them and their parents. Simple.
Particularly at Constable level we didnâ€™t worry about contact counts or building trust and confidence, we just did what we thought we should do. What we thought was right and proper by the letter of the law.
â€œWhat does that have to do with PACT?â€ I hear you cry!
Well, slowly but surely over the years we as individual officers and as an organisation realised that what we thought didnâ€™t really count. What the public thought needed doing was more important. Dealing with incidents correctly and lawfully was paramount but the thoughts, beliefs, needs and wants of the Community needed to be listened to and acted upon.
Gradually consultation meetings with parts of the community were introduced, and here we are 25 years later and those consultations have evolved into the PACT meeting!
So back to the beginning, what is PACT and why do we have it?
It is what it says on the tin. For the Neighbourhoods where I work itâ€™s a meeting held every 2 months where members of the local community, whether they live, work or socialise in the area, attend and discuss with each other and Partner Agencies the issues that most affect their community. Partner Agencies include the local Neighbourhood Police Team, Local Authority, Education Department, Youth Services, Tenants and Residents Associations, Anti-Social Behaviour Units, the list is endless.
We all have opinions on local areas, whether we live work or socialise there. These meetings are there for us all to attend and express our opinions, concerns and if appropriate praise for an area. Itâ€™s a chance for local people to make a difference, to contribute to the well being of their Neighbourhood.
All of us will identify an issue that affects our area but will not necessarily know who to approach about it. Who do we tell? Who can do something about it? PACT will look at the issue and if the appropriate person or agency isnâ€™t there we will pass the information on to that person or agency. Issues are regularly raised that have caused concern to an individual or an area for several months which others, such as the local Neighbourhood Policing Team werenâ€™t aware of. PACT allows you face to face contact with a variety of agencies that can help.
Any issues can be raised: parking, Anti Social Behaviour, speeding, dog fouling, litter. Anything and everything that has or can have a detrimental effect on your community. The meetings are formal although donâ€™t necessarily follow a rigid format. Minutes are taken and priorities for the next two months are agreed by the persons present. These priorities are set by the members of the community present and not by the Police or other partners.
Recent priorities set by members of the community include inconsiderate parking outside schools, apparent alcohol and drug abuse in local parks and Anti-Social Behaviour in the street.
Some issues take months to resolve and remain as priorities for several meetings. This means that even the more difficult issues to address remain on our radar and do not get forgotten about or pushed aside without being sorted. Some are dealt with quickly and are replaced by new priorities at the next meeting.
If you donâ€™t come to the meeting, if you donâ€™t raise the issue that is affecting you, we and the others who can make a difference wonâ€™t know about it. All the agencies need your input to improve your Neighbourhood as well as to improve their working methods. To improve the way they serve the local community.
Your local PACT meeting has resulted in many local issues being addressed and things being put into place to improve the area for everyone. If you donâ€™t get involved you wonâ€™t be able to influence things for your area or know about all the work that has happened and is currently going on. You will not realise the impact that the PACT has had.
Who is PACT for? Itâ€™s for you, your friendsâ€™, families and neighbours.
Who benefits from it? We all do.
If you live in the West Midlands Police area, check out the websiteÂ www.west-midlands.police.uk
On the site you will find a link to Neighbourhood Policing, enter your postcode and you will find your local Neighbourhood Police Team. You will see who the local Sergeant is and who the Constables and Police Community Support Officers are that Police your Neighbourhood. There are contact details and e mail addresses. The site shows current priorities and updates on past priorities. Most importantly it will tell you the date, time and location of the next PACT meeting so you can come along!!
Most West Midlands Police Neighbourhood Teams also have twitter accounts!Â I cover two teams Wednesfield North and Wednesfield South our twitter accounts are:-Â @WednesfieldS and @WednesfieldN follow us please!
Wow, somewhat longer than I intended, but I hope you found it interesting and it makes you realise how important it is for you to get involved in your local PACT meetings.
Iâ€™m sure I speak for all Neighbourhood Teams when I say I look forward to meeting you at the next PACT meeting.