Citizen patrol idea - the volunteers are not vigilantes says Wisbech councillor

Cllr Steve Tierney.Medworth.(Con)

Cllr Steve Tierney.Medworth.(Con) - Credit: Archant

A Wisbech councillor, who just missed out on being among the final candidates for a £70,000 a year role as Police Crime Commissioner, is setting up a citizen’s patrol aimed at helping make people feel safe.

Wisbech Citizens' Patrol Facebook page

Wisbech Citizens' Patrol Facebook page - Credit: Archant

Councillor Steve Tierney, who last year was among hopefuls for the role of Police Crime Commissioner last year, is championing the idea and has already ordered 20 high vis purple jackets for volunteers.

“The idea is that a group of volunteers in high vis jackets walk patrols of key areas suggested by the public,” he wrote on his blog.

“The town park, for instance. Norfolk Street, the Market Place. The volunteers are not vigilantes. They do not try and “be police.”

“They are passive, supportive and friendly to anybody they encounter.

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“The general idea would be to say hello and good evening to people as you pass. Do positive things like pick up a bit of litter and put it in the bin. “Call a cab for somebody who needed one. Give directions. Walk people home if they need that, or call somebody to help them.

“Let the emergency services know if they are needed. But most of all, just be out there very visibly, very positive, very friendly, to make people feel safer,” he said.

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Roles like street pastors have cut crime and problems dramatically, he said, and: “Even more dramatically, they make people feel safer,” he said.

Cllr Tierney said: “The patrols will be entirely friendly, non-confrontational and supportive,” but has ordered 10 alarms to be safe in case somebody splits briefly from the group and in that rare event something happened.

“I have also ordered LED high power torches, shoulder bags to carry bottles of water and a pair of walkie talkies with a range of 5KM in case we have two patrols at some point and want to communicate.”

The idea was first raised by Cllr Tierney a few years ago when he was a county councillor, but was dropped due to what he said were: “cynical and rather unpleasant comments at the time,” which made him wonder why he was bothering.

But he added: “People often say they don’t feel safe and wish there was a more visible police presence on the streets.

“I think we all know that isn’t going to happen any time soon – so maybe revisiting the Citizen’s Patrol idea is worthwhile?”

“A patrol would not attempt to physically “stop crime.” If something criminal were occurring, they would call the police.

“I hope the Police would see a report from the Patrol as worthy of a quick response.

“I don’t claim this would solve all the problems and of course there are many things it couldn’t do anything about. But I am convinced it would make people feel safer and would make the community better.”

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