03 November 2016
New Community Warden service for St David’s
A pilot Community Warden service started in St David’s Neighbourhood on Tuesday 1 November. The service is being introduced to an area with a high density and very diverse population which is also the location for five separate hostels for vulnerable people.
The introduction of a Community Warden follows discussions over a number of years with councillors, supported housing agencies, local residents and police in relation to the impact of anti-social behaviour across the Neighbourhood.
St David’s Neighbourhood Partnership has been awarded grants from their Devon County Councillor, Jill Owen, the Exeter Board, and The People’s Health Trust. A steering group has been set up representing many of the local partners to work with the warden service provider, to identify key problem hot-spots, gather data on antisocial behaviour levels, be a point of contact for local residents, and provide a visible and reassuring presence across the area.
The Community Warden service will be supporting the local police, Exeter city council teams and voluntary agencies and will be able to report crime and anti-social behaviour directly to them. He will interact with established security services provided by Exeter College security, the University of Exeter Estate Patrol, and the Exeter Businesses Against Crime group (EBAC).
Asked why this service is needed, a local resident and Steering Group Member said that over recent years residents had become increasingly alarmed at the blatant drug-dealing in the area, as well as antisocial behaviour – including criminal damage.
Christine Fraser, Chair of St David’s Neighbourhood Partnership, explained that the introduction of the community warden service was a direct response to the Vision 2020 consultation process by the community to identify key issues and priority actions over the next 5 years to achieve the Association’s objective of making this inner-city area a place where people want to live and work, now and in the future.
Initially for a 9 month period, there will be a full evaluation report and recommendations to the police, Community Safety Partnership, Exeter City Council and St David’s community.
Christine Fraser added, ‘This is not a unique solution for inner-city communities and we know of several similar schemes in other towns and cities. However, it is a first for Exeter and we are all committed to ensuring that we achieve the very best outcome possible for everyone living and working in the area as well as supporting the work of our statutory agencies through a sensitive and collaborative approach.’
The warden service providers are confident in delivering this service, not least because their offices are based in the Neighbourhood and they have first-hand knowledge of many of the issues. There is a recognition that crime and disorder is not always being reported. Residents worried about contacting the police can now report incidents to the community warden who will make it part of his shift report. It should be noted that the warden service providers are not the police and people should continue to report crime and antisocial behaviour to the police in the usual way.
Devon County Councillor Jill Owen said, ‘There has been a huge reduction in police numbers in our city against increased demands for police services and even the much admired PCSOs are thinner on the ground. We would not have agreed to fund it if we were not aware of the problems St David’s is experiencing due to its proximity to the city centre. This is very much a pilot scheme so we will watch its progress carefully.’
Supt Sam De Reya, Police Commander for Exeter said ‘D&C Police are committed to protecting the vulnerable and reducing crime. We fully support this pilot and encourage community involvement to increase reporting, demonstrate visibility and engagement with our communities. The local Sgt and Police Community Management Officer are members of the steering committee and fully engaged with the progress of this pilot’
Note to Editor
St David’s Neighbourhood Vision 2020 document, ‘Building our Balanced Community’, can be found at: http://www.stdavidsneighbourhood.org.uk
For further information contact Christine Fraser on 07773038689; or
Karen Gold, Police Community Management Officer (PCMO) Exeter 01392 451613