My time with the Bobby Scheme

I am Ashley, a student officer with Cambridgeshire Constabulary. As part of our Initial Police Learning and Development Programme we were required to spend two to three days on a community engagement project. For my project I spent two days with The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme and partnered up with security advisor Jeff Turner to go out into the community and get first hand experience at what they do.

I arrived at Sawtry Police Station ready for an eight ‘o’ clock start on the Monday. I was greeted by Shirley Simpson, the trust manager who is responsible for the overall management and administration of the Cambridgeshire Police Shrievalty Trust. Shirley explained to me what The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme was and what they were all about. Jeff, the ‘Bobby’ who would be working with for the next two days, then arrived. Jeff has recently retired as a police dog handler from Cambridgeshire Constabulary and also happens to be a dab hand at DIY so is perfect for the job. Jeff explained what his job role entailed and showed me all the equipment that he used, before we picked up what we needed for the day and loaded it into the van.

We headed for our first appointment of the day, a talk on The Scheme and security advice by Jeff at Hartford Village Hall in Huntingdon. This is another important role carried out by the Scheme, giving several talks a month to various groups to help spread security and crime awareness and to bring the availability of the scheme to a much wider audience. This particular talk took place at a monthly residents meeting, which was also attended by mental health carers and their service users. As well as outlining what The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme and providing crime prevention advice, Jeff demonstrated many different security devises and the opportunity to buy them at prices that made them available to everyone.

At twelve thirty pm we made our first house visit to a sixty five year old female in Bluntisham. This was a proactive visit rather than a visit to a victim of crime. A male friend of the female had recommended the scheme to her. Jeff carried out a survey around the ladies house and perimeter and gave her lots of pointers and advice based on what he observed. Jeff fitted four window alarms, two door chimes/alarms, two door chains and a new sliding lock and padlock to the back gate. The lady had been feeling anxious about how secure her home was as she lived on her own and by the end of the visit all that anxiety had gone. She appeared grateful also for the company and conversation. Jeff checked her smoke alarms for her on the way out as she was unable to reach them.

We then visited a couple in Hemingford Grey who had been the victims of a burglary whilst on holiday. The offender/offenders had made entry by smashing a rear entry door to the premises and carried out a tidy search, taking electrical goods and predominately jewellery. Before going away on holiday the couple had taken their caravan out of storage and placed it on their driveway to clean it. They believe that somebody observed this and made note when the caravan went for the weekend. Jeff again surveyed the property and gave advice based on his observations. He then fitted window alarms to the rear and side windows of the bungalow and a door alarm to the front door.

After, we visited a seventy seven year old male and a seventy one year old female in Kimbolton whose elderly next door neighbour had been a victim of burglary and had been visited by the Scheme and subsequently recommended it to them. This neighbour came over during our visit and made a point of telling us how impressed she was with how Cambridgeshire Constabulary had dealt with her burglary despite her having heard in the news that the police don’t care about burglaries or its victims. She had called the burglary in after it had happened and the offender/offenders were no longer on scene and the first unit on scene was there within the hour, with scenes of crime officers arriving within the next hour and The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme visiting with in twenty four hours of the incident. Jeff and I carried out a survey and this time I assisted in installing the security devices deemed necessary. In this particular house we decided to install window alarms upstairs as well as a low slanted roof at the rear of the property made them more vulnerable. This was the last visit of the day and we finished at six pm.

On the Tuesday I again arrived for an eight am start. Jeff and I again loaded up the van with what we would need for the day. Our first visit of the day was to a couple in their seventies who had just moved to Whittlesey. The couple had been visited by Age UK to install mobility handles and they had subsequently passed their details onto The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme. This shows that there is effective partnership working between the scheme and other charities outside of the police within Cambridgeshire, with Age UK clearly recognising how valuable the scheme really is. This was a fairly small property and only required a door chain, window alarm and door alarm.

Our next visit again in Whittlesey. This time it was to an eighty one year old female who had awoken in the night to find a man standing next to her in her bedroom. He had then grabbed her handbag and run out of the house. We carried out a survey and installed two door chains, two door alarms and two window alarms. We also installed mirror to enable the lady to see who was coming down her side alley without having to take the back door off the chain. As a result of our visit she felt able to sleep upstairs again for the first time since the burglary.

At one pm we made our third visit to a seventy seven year old female in Peterborough who had been the victim of an attempted burglary. A foreign male had gained entry by throwing a metal grate through the front glass panel door. He had begun to fill up a holdall with the ladies valuables, but luckily a neighbour witnessed this and called the police. The first unit was on scene within minutes and were able to catch and arrest the male on the premises. We again carried out a survey, fitted security devises and gave advice and reassurance.

We made our final scheduled visit of the day to a couple in their seventies in Stanground. Their shed had been broken into and a lawn mower stolen. They had previously been visited by The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme after a burglary and had the house fitted with security devises and they believe these devises are what stopped the house from being targeted. We fitted new clasps and padlocks to the garage and shed and a door chime/alarm to the back door. This will alert them to people entering the house On the way back to Sawtry Police Station we made an unscheduled visit to a seventy year old lady who had previously been visited by the scheme after a burglary. She had called up the office again because the batteries in her alarm needed changing and insisted Jeff was the only man for the job! Luckily he was more than happy to help.

On my next blog, I will look at some of the security devices that The Cambridgeshire Bobby Scheme provide and install.

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