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A new chapter in rural policing
(29 April 2002)
A new chapter in rural policing will begin in the Staffordshire
Moorlands where a police commander is taking a leaf out of her father's book
to drive home policing issues on board mobile libraries.
Starting next month (May), villagers in Denford, Longsdon, Stanley
Moor, Stanley, Thorneyedge and Bagnall, followed by Heaton, Rushton,
Biddulph Park, Biddulph Moor and Rudyard will be able to take away crime
reduction advice and speak to police officers at the same time as picking up
an Inspector Morse mystery or Ruth Rendell whodunnit.
Inspector Helen Jones, of Leek Local Policing Unit, has spearheaded
the scheme - thought to be the first of its type in the country - which
involves using established library runs as mobile police surgeries. They
will help create links between the police and hard to reach groups, and help
encourage residents to become the eyes and ears of their communities.
Helen is following in the footsteps - or possibly tyre tracks - of
her father Ray Smith who drove the mobile library vans on Moorlands routes
for ten years.
She saw, first hand, the benefits rural residents gained from
regular visits to their villages.
"My father became part and parcel of village life for the many
different communities he visited on his rounds. He became a link with the
outside world for many people who would have otherwise been isolated by
"It struck me that this was an ideal way of establishing a visible
police presence attached to a service that was already well accepted and
looked forward to by many people within rural areas," she said.
Ray retired from the service when he turned 65 in September 2000.
The mobile surgeries will be piloted in the Leek area for a year
funded by rural sparsity cash. It will allow two officers to dedicate time
to the project one day every month covering areas on two routes. Community
beat officers PC Trevor Jones, who oversees Endon and PC Brian Milward, of
Brownedge, will be responsible for undertaking the mobile surgeries.
Said Insp Jones: "In addition to providing a visible presence in the
villages, the mobile surgeries will also give us the opportunity for our
officer to gather information, provide crime reduction advice, circulate
leaflets and offer help and reassurance where needed.
"We will be sending out a list of diary dates to villagers in order
to ensure that villagers know where and when they can catch up with our
The officers will travel with the library vans in a marked police
vehicle and park alongside them at pre-arranged stops.
Jim Muir, Service Leader, Cultural and Recreational Services, said:
"The Mobile Library Service is delighted to have been asked to work in
partnership with the Leek Local Policing Unit on this project. Mobile
libraries have a long history of providing a much-valued facility to rural
areas and are an ideal vehicle for delivering information and support to
isolated and excluded communities. This and other initiatives takes our
service a step further by supporting the physical presence of a police
officer on our routes in the north of the County and I look forward to
further partnership arrangements in the future"
Insp Jones, her father Ray, and Olwen Johnson from the Mobile
Library Service will be launching the service with a photocall on tomorrow
(Tuesday) between 1:30 and 2:15pm, outside Keith's Supermarket in the main
street, Brownedge. Reporters and photographers are invited to attend. Please
be prompt as the van will be continuing its library run.
Further information can be obtained from Insp Jones on 01785 233860
or Mrs Johnson on 01785 278317.