Police officers and a sniffer dog descended on Grantham town centre today (Tuesday), where sirens could be heard sounding for several hours.
But thankfully there wasn’t a criminal in sight.
The operation in St Peter’s Hill was not a crackdown on crime; instead it was one of 12 community engagement events taking place across the county this summer and into the autumn.
Members of the public were able to raise issues and ask for advice. They were also invited to tell police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick what they feel policing priorities should be.
Mr Hardwick said: “The aim is to talk to the people that we serve, to ask them what their problems are and how they would like their policing to be. I am convinced that talking to people face-to-face is the best way for officers to get feedback. I find it very valuable and I hope the people who talk to me get something out of it.”
Chief Inspector Chris Davison was approached by several Grantham residents keen to talk about issues in their neighbourhoods. Among them were drunkenness, drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour at night along main routes into the town.
Ch Insp Davison added: “Grantham remains one of the safest towns in Lincolnshire, and Lincolnshire is one of the safest counties in the country. That’s not to say there still isn’t work to do.
“We’ve made great strides in terms of anti-social behaviour and we want to keep the impetus there. I think people have noticed the difference in the town.”
Star of the show was Lucy the dog, with children making a beeline for her. Many of them were also keen to hop into a police car and set off the ‘blues and twos’.
Ch Insp Davison said he believes being approachable to youngsters is key. He said: “We’ve found a lot of children have been coming over and that’s really great because we get to show them that they shouldn’t be afraid of the police, so if they’re in any trouble they know who they can turn to. They know we’re friendly and can help them.”
This is emphasised in a booklet entitled ‘Junior Eyes’, which was being promoted by Helen and Steve Bill.
Helen is known to many as chairman of the Grantham and District Neighbourhood Watch Association, and she is also a police volunteer. The booklet is her project, aimed at children aged seven-11, and is designed to advise youngsters on topics such as bullying, road safety and what to do in the event of a fire.
Helen said: “We embarked on this project two years ago, it’s an extension of what we do as the Grantham and District NHW Association. It promotes safety and awareness, and also teaches respect and responsibility for their own community. I think that is very, very important.”
The first print run was for 5,000, and the booklets will be taken into schools by police community support officers like Sam Hussain, who praised the idea as “really good”. A formal launch of the scheme will take place in the coming weeks.