Residents fed up with anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and gangs roaming their streets met with Peterborough’s police chief yesterday to organise themselves in to action groups who will gather crime data.
Superintendent Andy Gipp explained to the audience at The Pavilion in Central Park that they are needed to help gather as much information as possible to help the police.
The very well attended meeting was part of an ongoing police strategy to get out into the community and encourage locals to take part in the battle to rid their streets of crime.
But some of the residents were sceptical of the lack of response they have been getting when calling 999 to report crime.
“If 10 people call 999 then that is logged as 10 separate ‘actions’, and that could exhaust our entire resources if we are dealing with other incidents,” Supt Gipp explained.
“What you need to do is get 10 people to call your local neighbourhood officer or PCSO and report to them what you have seen. That will be actioned as one incident 10 times over, and then given priority.”
Liam Sweeney, sergeant for the Eastern Sector, said: “If you wish to organise street patrols of two to three people to gather information on crime that you are witnessing in your area, then you are perfectly within your rights to do so.
“You are not vigilantes, so don’t confront the youths or the street-workers as you will put yourself in danger. Just gather the information discreetly and report it to your PCSO, or anonymously through the police website, and we will take it from there.
“The challenge for us is not that we don’t care. It’s that we will run out of resources very quickly if we don’t organise the process of gathering criminal data – that’s where you come in.”
One resident complained about the lack of CCTV and the poor quality of those cameras already in place: “Unfortunately, CCTV is a very expensive commodity and the responsibility of Peterborough City Council,” Sgt Sweeney explained.
“The CCTV that does exist in the Eastern ward is actually better than in most and is linked directly to police Control by the CCTV operators.
“But you all have smart phones and they have high-quality video cameras. If you see a car screeching around your streets, or a prostitute selling herself outside your house, then video it with your phone as discreetly as possible so you’re not in any danger, and then send it in to us.”
Supt Gipp explained that the website has video upload facilities for both traffic incidents and a different upload area for other crimes.
“We might not be as visible as you would like us to be sometimes, but believe me if we flooded the streets with uniformed coppers then the criminals would simply fade away until we left.
“I would much rather have two or four of my officers working undercover gathering data with your help, than 100 officers on the street for one day.”