How should we back the bobby on the beat?

MOST of us don't know how to contact our 'bobbies on the beat'.Most of us don't think we can influence what aspects of law and disorder they tackle.

MOST of us

don't know

how to contact our 'bobbies

on the beat'.

Most of us don't think we can influence what aspects of law and disorder they tackle. Nearly half of us think they should be cracking down on speeding rather than some of their stated priorities.

Those were the results of a survey in rural communities, including Holt and Stalham, commissioned by the police authority, as reported in last week's News.

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The findings must have come as a bit of a blow for Norfolk's police chiefs. Those beat bobbies are part of Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) set up in 2006.

There are six teams in north Norfolk and they aim to give us all a greater sense of security and somewhere we can turn for help when there are law and order problems in our neck of the woods.

The teams hold regular 'action panel meetings' when the public can raise concerns and three policing priorities are agreed as a result.

So why isn't the scheme working? I'd hazard a guess at a number of reasons:

Give it more time. Unless an SNT gets picked to take part in Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing or the X-Factor, the concept is likely to take more than a couple of years to filter into public consciousness.

Rethink those action panel meetings. One I attended in North Walsham last year was held during working hours on a weekday and many of those present didn't really understand its unfamiliar format or purpose. Make them more accessible - eg Saturday afternoons - and cut out all the jargon and bureaucracy.

Drop the 'Safer Neighbourhood Team' tag and use something snappier which includes the word 'police'. Without that vital word, I don't think people realise what it's all about. Strictly speaking, team members aren't all police or police community support officers, but it's bobbies we members of the public want on our doorsteps when our windows are getting smashed or our cars broken into - not some bloke from the council.

You can meet some of your local SNT members around north Norfolk in the next few weeks. They will be at Wroxham Library tomorrow from 3pm to 5pm, Monday February 23 from 11am to 1pm, and Thursday March 19, from 11am to 1pm; Aylsham Library, Monday February 16 from 3pm to 5pm and Friday March 27 from 11am to 1pm. Shoppers at Sainsbury's in North Walsham this Sunday can get car-crime prevention advice from SNT members between noon and 3pm.

You can contact your SNT via 0845 456 4567 or at