Community policing has always been an integral part of policing to ensure our communities remain safe.
Over the past six months, our neighbourhood teams have invested a considerable amount of time and effort to stamp out crime and challenge anyone that threatens to harm our area.
Key figures in our community team based at Osborne Street Police Station in Hull, PCSO Tony Walgate and Sergeant Ashley Haigh took the time out of their day to speak about the diverse and often complex situations that they manage on a daily basis to ensure harmony across Hull city centre.
Can you tell us about the team based at Osborne Street Police station?
Sergeant Ashley Haigh said: “Of course, we are actually made up of three separate teams, so we are able to cover a range of hours across the centre of the city. Each team has approximately four police officers and four PCSOs on shift at any one time.
“Hull city centre is a heavily populated area which means it can get quite busy, especially with the increased levels of tourism to the city with the return of events and concerts.
“But we don’t just cover Hull city centre, we are also responsible for Hessle Road, Anlaby Road (including Hull Royal Infirmary), St Andrews Quay, Beverley Road and Spring Bank which includes a lot of high-rise flats and residences.”
What does community policing mean to you and your team?
PCSO Tony Walgate said: “This is a really easy question for me to answer, I love my job. It is about taking ownership and being a part of the community.
“If something goes wrong, I take personal responsibility to make sure I can try my best to fix the problem or provide a solution.
“Working with communities is all about our residents and I’m here to do the best I can to and help them in any way that I can.
Sergeant Ashley Haigh added: “I think Tony has hit the nail on the head, I’m really passionate about my job and when the opportunity came up for me to work out of Osborne Street, I couldn’t say yes quick enough.
“Hull is a great city and I have always wanted to help and make a difference to the area I was brought up in. The amazing team that I get to work with is a great bonus too!”
What problems do the team face when it comes to tackling crime in Hull city centre?
PCSO Tony Walgate said: “No incident or issue is ever a problem; we see it instead as a challenge and work really hard to resolve it.
“I think based on the coverage it got in the media at the time, a lot of people will be aware of the incident that took place on Whitefriargate back in February this year where a number of teenagers attacked a shop. A lot of the challenges we face centre around anti-social behaviour.”
Sergeant Ashley Haigh said: “I’d agree, and with a range of convenience and fast-food businesses within the city centre teenagers and young adults tend to use these as a social point with their friends, and travel from across the city to meet up here.
“It’s a very small minority that do spoil it for others and that’s why we work with our other neighbourhood community teams to identify those involved and take appropriate action.
“We also have a great working relationship with Hull Bid, the local shopping centres and British Transport Police which has allowed us to introduce a range of initiatives to minimise incidents further.”
Working with partnering agencies plays a key role in helping you do your job, what initiatives do you currently have ongoing?
PCSO Tony Walgate said: “As Ashley said, we work really closely with Hull Bid and other local businesses and will attend regular retail crime meetings to discuss crime trends in the area and look at what we can do going forward.
“Another scheme we are really proud of is our cycle-marking scheme. We’ve had a fantastic response from the local community and in two weeks we’ve managed to tag 139 bikes in the city centre alone, with people queuing up to take part, as a part of our continued commitment to stamp our bike thefts.”
Sergeant Ashley Haigh said: “We also work really closely with our partners to do the best we can to assist the homeless within the area. This includes working with local outreach programmes and housing associations.
“Whilst it is nearing completion, I am pleased to say we are currently working on a project with the local authority and charities which will offer wraparound care to assist those currently living on our streets in a bid to help them with their personal circumstances, whatever they may be.”
Do you have any advice for anyone that witnesses something suspicious or has any information about crime in the city centre?
Sergeant Ashley Haigh said: “I would just encourage you to talk to us, whether that is via our non-emergency 101 line or in person either whilst we’re out and about or at one of our police surgeries.
“We value all information, no matter how small it may seem, as it helps us to build up the bigger picture of what is going on enabling us to take appropriate action to help keep Hull safe.”
You can report information by calling our non-emergency 101 line or by dialling 999 in an emergency or if there is a crime ongoing.
You can also report information anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.