I HAVE not long returned home after going on patrol with the Botwell Safer Neighbourhood Team, and your readers may be interested to hear about the experience.
The team was on the 2pm-midnight shift, but because of a meeting of the Hayes Town Partnership I was not able to join them until 4.30pm, and I also crept off a bit early at 11.30pm.
However, what I saw in the time I spent with them was a superb show of how Safer Neighbourhood Teams are working for the community.
Botwell team is an exceptional bunch of committed and professional police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs).
Led in excellent style by Sergeant Simon Mapes, they have shown how teams can win the confidence of the communities they serve and also reduce crime and the fear of crime.
Through their work they have identified the problem places in the ward and the problem people, but just as important they know those residents who care about where they live and are keen to work with the police to make Hayes a safe place.
The first part of my tour of duty was to accompany one of the PCSOs through the town centre, to show a presence and to visit sites which are causing a nuisance or an opportunity for anti-social behaviour.
We were quickly able to identify what needed to be done and, with the help of councillors, I am pursuing these issues with the council.
Back in the office, a call was received from a distressed member of the public who asked for one of the PCSOs in the team whom she clearly trusted and who had given her support in the past.
A quick and sympathetic response soon resulted in the problem being resolved.
Then I went on cycle patrol with Sergeant Mapes. We visited all the sensitive areas in the ward, including the town centre, Lake Farm Country Park and Stockley Park Golf Course.
What struck me most as we cycled along was how many people waved friendly greetings from their gardens as they clearly trusted their local police team.
He was also fully aware of the individuals and the places to watch, and we checked out groups of young people who were hanging about, seemingly with not a lot to do.
For those who were up to no harm he showed his presence in a friendly but firm manner and those concerned responded with respect.
For the minority who were on the verge of getting into mischief they got the message and moved on.
Other individuals with known criminal records were made to realise that they were under scrutiny by somebody who knew their form.
We visited one of the residents who serves on the local safer neighbourhood panel, and got an update about a local problem.
Then, with the support of other members of the team we called at an address to make an arrest of a suspected drug dealer who had failed to answer bail for offences in an area far from Hayes.
The one disappointment of the evening was that he was not home.
All in all this was a fascinating experience, and showed exactly why safer neighbourhood teams have won the support of the public and have improved the policing of the borough.
DAVID BROUGH chairman
Hayes Town Partnership
High Street Uxbridge