PERSHORE’S MP Harriett Baldwin is used to pounding the pavements in her job but in recent months this has taken on a new dimension as she joined a scheme to get a better understanding of her local police force.
Police matters are a regular issue both in her daily postbag and when she chats to constituents across her West Worcestershire constituency.
And although crime figures have shown a consistent downward trend over recent years, criminals keep trying and she works closely with West Mercia Police Chief Constable David Shaw and Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore to ensure local policing issues are reported back.
Harriett has also been active locally in her constituency and has been out on night-time patrol with her local police teams, including last year heading out on the beat on a busy Friday night visiting local pubs as part of Operation Christmas Presence.
Recently she was invited to join the Police Service Parliamentary Scheme, a national project which helps MPs to get closer to their local force and educate them about the challenges police face on a day-to-day basis.
After meetings with the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner, Harriett participated in a series of briefings from senior officers regarding the work of the alliance.
“I signed up for the scheme to get a clearer insight into day-to-day policing and some of the challenges that David Shaw and his team face.” she said.
“My first insight into this was listening in on the daily conference call where local police teams report major incidents to the senior team.
“Crime statistics are on a downward trend but there is still much to do. Recently, we were able to discuss the issue of rural crime, and particularly the work done to try and limit a spate of thefts of catalytic converters.”
Harriett also spent some time in the control room to understand how police are dispatched to incidents and shadowed a call centre operator handling calls from the general public.
The MP has also gone out on patrol with specialist teams including the police responsible for monitoring people on sex offenders’ list and those who protect victims of domestic violence.
“A lot of the work that officers do is about preventing crime. The public like to see police out and about on the streets but some of this work needs to be done discreetly in plain clothes.”
During the summer, Harriett undertook a series of briefing sessions from different departments within West Mercia Police.
She met with officers from the serious crimes unit, the intelligence gathering teams and those officers responsible for planning for civil emergencies.
Harriett was also briefed by the specialist firearms unit which is based at Hindlip and was given a tour of the facilities.
“Worcestershire has a lot of people with gun licences and a very large number of legally held guns.
“The firearms unit attends an incident once every three days and it is worrying to think that even in here in Worcestershire, gun crime does exist.
“The sheer size of the patch means that we need mobile units ready to react across the force area which means at any one time five or six mobile units are available for armed deployment.
“There’s also a great deal of time spent training and the highly-experienced firearms unit help to train new officers.
“Other forces and organisations use this facility for training and Hindlip is becoming a very useful and potentially profitable resource for West Mercia and Warwickshire Police.
Harriett was also given a series of displays by the specialist dog handling unit.
One of the exercises involved using a police dog to search a car and identify a passenger hidden in the car with a replica handgun.
“The team has dogs to carry out a number of specialist tasks including searching for drugs and explosives.
“The task of training each dog takes enormous dedication and is a full-time commitment as they have to take the dog home with them every night.
“I know that their unit is highly valued and makes a significant difference when it comes to policing public disturbance.
Harriett said the scheme has proved to be highly useful and it has given her a much deeper insight into the role of the local police.
“Above all, I have learned that West Mercia Police and its sister force in Warwickshire, has been able to adapt to a difficult financial climate and deliver a first class service for local people.
“I know I am grateful for the work that they do and I have thanked David Shaw and his team for allowing me to get such in-depth access to see the challenges at first hand.” she added.
Mrs Baldwin with members of the police dog handling team, PC Emma Worrall, Sgt Pat Garrett with Echo, Sgt Spencer Bradley and PC Steve Heathcote. (s)
Police dog team simulate an arrest of an armed man. (s)