Meet and greets by officers help to reduce anti-social behaviour on Norfolk Broads
PUBLISHED: 07:32 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:57 03 August 2017
It is not always easy being a female police officer having to deal with large groups of men heading out for a stag party on the Broads.
On Friday, the Norwich Evening News joined PC Amy Barrell, PC Frances Peters and police dog Sheldon as they visited two boatyards to conduct a series of “meet and greets”.
The talks were introduced in an effort to reduce anti-social behaviour.
“We’ve seen and heard all the jokes,” said PC Barrell. “One of the favourites when they see two police women walking up to them is ‘here come the strippers’.”
Working out of Hoveton police station, the Broads Beat team conducts patrols on the water or uses a vehicle to travel between the various boatyards. On Friday, their first stop was at Herbert Woods where several all-male groups were loading up their hire boats with gear and, in some cases, plenty of alcohol.
“We work closely with the boat hire companies and the ones that are able to accommodate large groups send us a list which includes information such as the name of the boat, the lead hirer’s name and how many people are on board,” said PC Barrell.
“We then go out and meet with the groups to make them aware that there is a police presence around and that anti social behaviour will not be tolerated. I think it has definitely helped and complaints have reduced a lot in the last few years.”
While PC Barrell addressed the first group, PC Peters and Sheldon, a drugs, weapons and cash dog, conducted a search of the boat, which turned up empty handed.
“It’s definitely a big deterrent seeing a police dog along,” said PC Peters.
After spending time at Herbert Woods, the team moved on to Richardsons.
While joking and kidding around a lot, members of most of the groups spoken to said they understood the need for the initiative and were cooperative.
Broads Beat member PC Paul Bassham said they had received an award in 2015 from the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association for the contribution they had made through the meets and greets.
“Not all these groups are out to cause trouble,” he said. “The Norfolk Broads is a very attractive destination and we want their business and we want them to have fun, as long as it is responsibly.”