Policing in Hebden Bridge
and the Upper Valley

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Two issues dominated public concerns: anti-social behaviour, and the difficulty of communicating with the police.

Yesterday evening, 29th April a well attended public meeting was held at the Birchcliffe Centre to discuss issues around policing in the Upper Calder Valley.

Those present included members of the upper valley “neighbourhood policy teams”, several senior police officers, 3-4 councillors and members of the public. The meeting was chaired by Calderdale councillor (Cons) Geraldine Carter.

Chief Superintendant Alan Ford told the meeting that in Calderdale crime has never been lower and detections have never been higher (No sources cited). To the surprise of some in the audience he said that locally they were well on the way to achieving a 15 minute response for all emergency calls and a one hour response for high priority calls. They had an excellent police team, several of whom had won national awards.

However, Chief Sup. Ford said he was well aware that currently the main public concern was anti-social behaviour which affected the quality of life of those experiencing it to such an extent that some were wary of going out after dark. And that dealing with anti-social behaviour meant developing new approaches.

Extensive discussion took place about how difficult it was to contact the police. People were put off having to phone a call centre in Wakefield where the person answering first asked a series of set questions, including date of birth, and then had no idea of the local geography. Why couldn’t we just phone the local community police on their mobile phones? Chief Sup Ford responded that this was because it could interfere with their duties at the time - it wasn’t always appropriate for the officer to answer mobile calls. However, he conceded that there had been a problem with communication but hoped that with the current procedures this might change, and that they would in due course be making full use of email and the web.

Other points raised at the meeting were

This was a good attempt at creating a dialogue between the police and the community. However, the venue had poor acoustics so that discussion was often strained and the chair, Cllr Carter talked far more than necessary, feeling that every point needed her lengthy response. The police officers present came over very well, and showed themselves to be genuinely interested in the views expressed, and open to new ideas.

More info

Hebden Bridge Neighbourhood Policing Homepage - includes local police contacts and procedures, a local police news round up, details of local groups and links to other police information pages.