FENLANDER: CrimeBUSter not just about tackling crime as it takes services into rural parts of Fenland

ONE day it’s out visiting a village, the next it’s calling in at a school and for the next few it could be parked at the scene of some major incident.

Week in, week out, the CrimeBUSter tours the district, engaging with the public in all sorts of ways and on all sorts of issues.

For, despite its name, the bus is not just concerned with tackling crime. It is about taking practical help and advice on a wide range of services out into the community, as well as providing comfort and reassurance at critical times.

It is run as a partnership between Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and Roddons Housing Association, who share the running costs between them. All four organisations have pledged funding for the next year.

The bus has a busy schedule. Over the past 12 months it has made 76 trips out into the villages and logged more than 300 requests for various services.

On those rural tours it stations itself in a village for several hours, enabling residents to call in and get advice on anything from crime prevention and anti-social behaviour to fire safety and housing issues or to register their own particular concerns.

Staff also take the opportunity to go knocking on doors to ask residents if they need help or if they know of any problems in their neighbourhood.

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At other times, the bus has been deployed as a central information point at major emergencies such as last year’s spate of fires in Wisbech and at the scene of two murders. It also attends key community events and is available to respond at short notice to particular problems, such as the vandalism at Mount Pleasant cemetery in Wisbech.

Councillor Ken Mayor, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for stronger and safer communities and chairman of the Safer Fenland Partnership, said: “All the partners see the CrimeBUSter as a vital way of getting out and meeting people all over the district.

“This year we have engaged directly with nearly 3,000 people. Not only have we been able to give them all sorts of practical help; we have also gained a lot of really useful feedback about their main concerns.”

Pauline Gardner, Roddons’ neighbourhood manager, said: “We have seen real benefits for tenants as a result of our partnership working on the CrimeBUSter scheme.

“Residents can use it to report any incidents of crime, which in turn helps the police to target their resources most effectively, and it makes advice on crime prevention and community safety readily available.

“It also enables people living in harder to reach rural areas to access the full range of Roddons’ services and gives them a great opportunity to discuss issues with their neighbourhood officer.”

•? Later this month the CrimeBUSter will be visiting Murrow (March 22), Benwick (March 23), Guyhirn (March 24) and Newton (March 30). It will be in each village from 8.30am-12.30pm.

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