‘CCTV makes difference in town’

POLICE officers working in Daventry say the past year has been an impressive one for going above and beyond to help out the community.

Sgt Paul Valentine, who has been head of police in the Daventry area for the past year, talks with tremendous pride about the hard work that has gone into all of the achievements over the past year.

However, when asked to identify just one thing which has made the most difference to the people of the town, he chooses CCTV.

Sgt Valentine said: “It is one of the things which has really helped in cutting down on issues like shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.”

The cameras were due to be turned off by Daventry District Council but a deal was thrashed out between the police, Daventry Town Council and the Daventry Business Partnership (DBP) to keep them switched on and monitored. Sgt Valentine said this partnership has shown a number of benefits.

He added: “We have worked very closely with both organisations but, in particular, the wardens from the DBP. There is a radio link in the town and this has been a very strong, co-ordinated partnership.

“If the CCTV deal hadn’t been saved, there would have been something in place but it would not have been as good as it currently is. It is a real asset to the town.”

However he was also issuing a warning as he fears some of the good work could soon be undone.

Sgt Valentine said: “I speak about this because the majority of the DBP funding is the Business Improvement District (BID) levy which is applied to traders in the town.

“The BID is due to be renewed early in the new year and if it wasn’t to secure funding, then people would not get the same sort of service that we have now. The wardens are a fantastic asset for the town and I really hope the levy is renewed.”

Sgt Valentine also highlighted the work done by the safer community team with schools and young people.

He said: “We have been able to do a lot of good work with many of the schools in the area, in particular the two secondary schools in Daventry.

“We have organised road safety days, safer cycling events and the Prison Me No Way events which were always very well supported and received by the students.

“Officers were also able to secure funding for youth projects. PC Stuart Rands received £7,000 to work with The Phoenix Centre and create events based around anti-social behaviour and drugs.

“PC Inge Thatcher also managed to get £6,000 to establish a youth club on the Southbrook, and a youth club in Kilsby we helped to establish has won an award which we are all very pleased about.”

Crimes in the Daventry district are also on the decline with all crime down 12.4 per cent compared with the same period last year. But the most distinctive change was the number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour, down 23.5 per cent.

Sgt Valentine said: “We are very proud of the performance with these crime figures but there is more we can do and we will be looking to make these figures even lower next year.

A survey carried out by Northamptonshire Police also indicated there was a huge amount of confidence in the local force.

Sgt Valentine said: “87 per cent of the people asked said that we were excellent at dealing with things that matter in the community and more than 80 per cent of people thought we were doing a good or excellent job.

“Some 97 per cent of people thought police would treat you with respect and 91 per cent surveyed said we understood the issues that affect the community.”

Officers from the Daventry Safer Community Team have also gone out of their way to make themselves known to the general public.

Sgt Valentine added: “There are many surgeries we have held across the Daventry district. Some of them have been well attended and these are a good way of raising awareness of issues in the area.

“Many of the officers are now on Twitter and can be contacted directly and have supported many community events.”

For now, they are looking forward to the new year.

Sgt Valentine said: “It has been a really good year, we can all look back and be very happy about how it has gone.

“But we are looking to build on this year’s successes and try and have an even better 2013.”