The main topics of interest for me were proposals for a rural CCTV system being rolled out in interested parishes throughout the borough. The system is being promoted by the county council and provides for a camera that sends images, via the internet, back to a central control area, which can be retrieved at a later date by the police if there was suspicion that criminal activity had been captured by the camera. It's important to stress that these cameras would not be continously monitored, so it would be unlikely that a crime would be observed as it was taking place, but they could provide additional evidence to the police for any subsequent investigation or prosecution.
A trial of the system will be held in Wolston in the new year, and I hope to go and see it in operation to judge its potential value for Shilton and Barnacle. The officer leading on the project also agreed to attend a future meeting of the parish council to give a fuller presentation on system's capabilities.
The use of CCTV cameras can be controversial, with some people objecting to the principle of being filmed and recorded whilst they go about their daily business. Other people find some amount of comfort in the deterrent effect it can provide (especially with the relative sparsity of rural policing). If the parish council did seek to have a CCTV camera installed in either village, I would be seeking a full consultation exercise with residents to ensure that they supported the measure. In the meantime, if you have an opinion on this issue, leave a comment at the bottom of this post or contact the parish council direct.
The forum meetings also provide an opportunity for the public to suggest local policing priorities in the area for the next three months. Shilton Parish Council has been aware for a number of months now of instances of alleged drug dealing/taking on the Shilton Village Hall car park. I raised this as a priority to be addressed, and it was agreed that Warwickshire Police's Safer Neighbourhood Team would focus resources on the car park over the coming months.
The police are required to report back on the outcome of their work at the next forum meeting. Helpfully, this meeting will be held on 23 March at Shilton Village Hall. I hope that as many local residents as possible turn up to the meeting to hear what the police have done about this particular problem, and to question officers themselves about any other concerns that they may have.
A number of other topics were discussed, including:
- The county council's Cabinet are to consider a report on the outcome of the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service's consultation exercise at their meeting on 28 January. If the outcome of that consultation exercise is to recommend changes to the existing Fire Service (including the potential closure of a number of fire stations in the county which I blogged about in October here), a final decision on this will be taken at a meeting of the full county council on 9 February.
- A presentation was given on the planned housing and business development proposals at the former Radio Station site on the eastern side of Rugby.
- A presentation was given on the role and work of the Warwickshire Probation Service and the Community Payback initiative. This is the scheme whereby unpaid work is undertaken by convicted offenders in order to make the community a better place to live. It was reported that 60,997 hours of unpaid work had been carried out by offenders throughout Warwickshire during 2008. This may be something that the parish council looks at utilising locally to help improve the look of the area, eg. by undertaking litter picks.
- The Rugby Community Safety Partnership gave a presentation with advice and guidance for protecting yourself and your family from being the victim of crime, safeguarding your property and building safer communities. I collected a number of 'goodie-bags' containing helpful tips and advice (and a few free gifts!) which I'll look to hand out at the next surgery at Barnacle Village Hall. If you want a bag for yourself, leave me a message or let me know the next time you see me.
- A regular update was given by Warwickshire Police. There had been 30 incidents in Shilton and Barnacle that had been reported to the police in the three months September - November. There was no further breakdown of what these 30 incidents actually were, although the police did undertake to have this more detailed information available at future meetings. They also highlighted the new online Crime Mapper service, which provides information on reported crime levels for the county, borough or ward areas. If anyone is interested in seeing the actual levels of crime in our area, this website is well worth a look. (And you give you a headstart, I can tell you that there were two burglaries, no robberies, five vehicle crimes, one incident of violent crime, and seven instances of anti-social behaviour in the Fosse ward during October).
Overall, it was a very interesting meeting. If it sounds like it's your sort of thing, then come along to the next meeting on Tuesday 23 March at 7.30pm at Shilton Village Hall.