The Ketton Project.
What and Why
The Ketton Project, or more accurately, the Ketton and Tinwell Project is an initiative between the Rutland Neighbourhood Watch Association (RNHWA) and South Rutland Police, to address the community safety problems of a rural community at a time of significant change.
Its aims are to:
1. Demonstrate that it is possible, largely through their own endeavours, to reduce burglary by at least 30%;
2. Develop a model of local cooperation that would make community safety more effective and sustainable; and
3. Produce a flexible template applicable to other areas.
These Parishes are typical of many rural towns and villages (comprising about 50% of the Force area) with a high quality of life, where crime, viewed nationally is unexceptional but the level of crime is rising, and lack of Police visibility is of concern to residents. Housing development, means that local demographics are changing; without positive action the qualities that attract to Rutland and similar areas will gradually diminish.
With fewer officers and increased pressures, the Leicestershire Police are undergoing enforced changes to both their methods and their priorities e.g. Terrorism, Modern Slavery, and Cyber Crime, alongside the demands of Drugs and ‘Volume Crime’; these new priorities are resource intensive.
If we are to make our rural neighbourhoods safer, we need to understand how we can work better, with Police and others; this has not been made clear.
• Police investigations are now ‘intelligence led’, if there is no evidence to help identify a suspect, crime may not be pursued; this is where incremental reports of ‘suspicious behaviour’ by residents are important.
• All crime must be reported to ensure the type and patterns of offences can be analysed. Well planned and executed crime prevention is the key to reducing crime.
• Locally led solutions make stronger communities. Local communities are expected, both by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Police, to resolve, or assist in resolving, local problems. Neighbourhood Police Officers, such as PC Peter Icke, are the visible link with communities for Crime Prevention and Intelligence gathering, acting as a catalyst to enable (not run) such local solutions to local problems.
• It is recognised by the Police and Crime Commissioner in his latest Crime Plan (2017-21), that Partnership across the public and voluntary sector is critical to the success of his plan, and that ‘community involvement moves beyond consultation and engagement, and involves active participation’.
• The expectation that the ‘Police’, or ‘someone else’, will resolve all local problems is a mistake that we must tackle imaginatively with the resources we currently have, not those we would like.
It is worth noting, that Ketton and Tinwell, with a population of approximately 2000 (approx. 900 dwellings), has one Neighbourhood Watch Scheme covering roughly 15 houses. There used to be more such schemes, but with a lack of interest they fell into disuse. Both we and the Police must publicise our successes, so process and results are apparent.
Community Support and Engagement.
The active role of the public in both Crime Prevention and ‘Intelligence Gathering’, has always been important, but the recent changes, make these activities even more significant in reducing and detecting crime.
Whilst Volunteering is personally very rewarding, there is currently a shortage of volunteers within Neighbourhood Watch, whether due to complacency, lack of interest, or other reasons. This places too much pressure on those remaining.
In my view the lack of volunteers and effective local communication are the critical issues. Can we identify and keep a range of volunteers: male, female, old, young, able, or disabled; are they willing to pass on and use their expertise and skills for the good of ‘their’ community?
To do this, we must work even harder to publicise, consult, and involve them, to ensure they understand the issues and the possibilities, both good and bad. But there is only so far we can go, it is a matter of personal choice.
If the local population understand their options and say, ‘no thank you’, then this Project and many others, will not be sustainable. It is their community, it is right they have a say what is done about issues affecting it.
The Way Forward.
Research, provides clear evidence that well planned and executed Crime Prevention Programmes are successful.
It is proposed we apply the best practice principles of the Home Office Crime Prevention Unit Research Papers, where appropriate, supplementing them with locally sourced information.
It is proposed local volunteers, initially co-ordinated and guided by a small group of key Agency and Community representatives, assisted by organised groups (e.g. Neighbourhood Watch and Police Support Volunteers), could develop a Parish wide framework for action and communication.
It is important for all to be aware that community members should play an increasing role in the management and direction of the initiative. Local control and further development of the scheme is necessary if it is to be sustainable and remain relevant.
To be continued.