New chapter for library van

STEPHEN PULLINGER The only police presence you would normally expect to find on a library bus would come in the form of an Agatha Christie whodunnit or perhaps the latest PD James.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

The only police presence you would normally expect to find on a library bus would come in the form of an Agatha Christie whodunnit or perhaps the latest PD James.

However, for the past three months a police community support officer has been travelling on board the Norfolk County Council vehicle on three of its routes - so villagers can take it as read that crime in their community is being dealt with.

As a result of the trial, running out of libraries in Gorleston and Wells, police chiefs have now decided putting officers on buses is just the ticket and the scheme is set to be rolled out across the whole county.


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PCSO Jon Morgan-Jones, 43, whose bus beat runs from Gorleston Library to the nearby villages of Reedham, Upton and Halvergate, said: “Being seen by the public is very good and it gives us a chance to talk to people from across the community who perhaps would not come to a police surgery. Elderly people who spend a lot of time indoors especially like to see a police presence in the area.”

While there was thankfully not a major crime problem in the villages, the public had brought to his attention all types of concerns from anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood disputes to litter and youngsters riding mopeds around too fast.

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Mr Morgan-Jones, who joined the ranks of PCSOs two-and-a-half years ago after being an insurance underwriter, said: “I wanted a job that would involve me in the community and getting out on the bus has allowed me to do that even more.”

Library bus driver John Smith, 61, the former operations manager at Eastern Counties Buses, said: “The feedback from customers has been very positive.

“And it certainly seems to have brought results. In Upton three people happened to mention they had had solar lights stolen from their garden.

“It is the sort of thing some people might not even ring the police about normally, but with three incidents reported on the bus it has made police aware of a more significant problem than just a one-off incident.

“A lot of people might not come to a mobile police station but as they are already on the library bus they just get talking.”

He said villagers now looked forward to the regular visits and PCSOs were even offered cups of tea.

On its visit to Reedham yesterday, bus user Joan Lewzey, who has lived in the village for 20 years, said: “It is a good idea to have a police presence in the village. Normally you just see them drive past.”

Retired Norwich magistrate Trevor Copperwheat, who has lived in Reedham for two years, agreed that a police presence was reassuring.

Supt Jo Parrett said: “Due to the success of the three-month trial the scheme is being reviewed so that it will hopefully be rolled out to the rest of the force in the near future.

“This scheme is incredibly important as not only has police presence in isolated areas been visibly increased, it has allowed officers from safer neighbourhood teams to integrate with the local community on a regular basis.”

County council chief executive David White described it as “an excellent example of joined up government working”.

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