Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Cyber cops scheme in line for top award

A pioneering way of giving people in North Wales more say in how their communities are policed is in the running for a prestigious UK award.

The interactive Balance your Bobbies scheme is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe.

It’s now been chosen as a finalist in the Association of Police Authorities’ Recognising Excellence Awards 2009.

The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in Nottingham, on November 26.

The Balance your Bobbies, devised jointly by North Wales Police and North Wales Police Authority, is going live today (Monday, November 9).

From then residents will be able to register on a special website and indicate their policing priorities to North Wales Police.

They will be able to sign up at www.balanceyourbobbies.com along with the North Wales Police and the North Wales Police Authority websites.

Using on-screen slide bars, members will be able to show which issues they would like the police to concentrate on in their area. But, like the Force, they will have to make choices because the website will not allow anybody to allocate more than 100 per cent of the available resources.

Rhian Rees Roberts, a Policy Officer with the Police Authority, believes the scheme is a winner – whatever happens at the APA awards. She said: “The whole purpose of the Police Authority is to be a bridge between the Force and the communities of North Wales.

“We have a statutory duty to consult with residents and Balance your Bobbies gives us a new bridge through cyberspace.

“We have public meetings, we conduct surveys and we go out and speak to lots of people but we felt that we needed an additional means of communication.

“Many people have busy lives and very often the last thing that people want to do after a day at work is to go to a public meeting.

“We want to ask them what they think the police should be concentrating on in the areas where they live.

“We have accepted that we need to move with the times and respond to the new possibilities that technology has given us.

“I would stress, however, that Balance your Bobbies is over and above what we do already to consult the public – and there are many other ways that people can get in touch.

“Local people are the eyes and ears of the police so it is imperative that we listen to them and that we shape the policing effort in a way that reflects their wishes.”

James Sutton, Head of Management Information at North Wales Police, is a key figure in the team that developed Balance your Bobbies. He said: “People can sit in their front room and whilst browsing on the Internet they can spend a little time indicating what their policing priorities are.

“It’s been designed to be simple to use – three or four clicks and you’re there.

“All you need to do is input your post code or search through a group of neighbourhood maps and it will show you your neighbourhood policing team and how to contact them.

“Once you’re there, people can choose from a list of priorities and, using a slide bar with a police officer’s helmet as an icon.

“The information about what you think is important will then go directly to your inspector and neighbourhood team.

“We’re talking about things like alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, dog fouling, littering, vandalism graffiti, people dealing in and using drugs – issues that are important to residents.

“These are issues that can and do affect the quality of life for people – and it’s important that we know what those issues are. The views will be captured right down to ward level.

“It will provide another invaluable stream of information so that the neighbourhood policing teams can decide how to police the area and allocate resources.”


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