Up to now the SNAP (Safer Neighbourhoods Action Panel) meetings have been a great development in police-public relations and community cohesion. Last night at Hobart High School in Loddon the new style of SNAP was launched - the police safer neighbourhoods team with its Action Panel was conflated with the South Norfolk Council East Rivers community meeting. IT WAS A SHAMBLES. We had:
- constant reminders that the functions of the SNAP were not those which had operated previously with no explanation who had changed the rules so arbitrarily and without consultation;
- the majority of the Panel sitting in the audience with just a tribunal which acted like an inquisition in its communications with the members of our communities;
- former members of the SNAP who had been “taken off” the Panel without explanation - the one who spoke up about this was the local Minister;
- a police representative on the tribunal whose attitude was bombastic and bullying. He very rudely cut a well respected member (a woman) of the Loddon community short when she was starting to relate incidents of stone throwing and damage, telling her this was not what they wanted to hear When challenged he later apologised for any offence caused but it was too late by then the repression had been successful . He prefaced the meeting by dogmatically announcing that anything that happened between 12 midnight and 8am was no business of the SNAP;
- an agenda which was couched in strict artificially bureaucratic items which were nebulous to the general public;
- disregard for proper access by vulnerable people to a public meeting - anyone with learning difficulties would have been much more demeaned, insulted and stifled than the people at the meeting were;
- a chair of the tribunal who appeared to be in complete ignorance of what the SNAP is about.
I have written previously, impressed by a positive community initiative that, in spite of some early glitches, was getting better and better. It’s a great shame these Safer Neighbourhoods Arseholes have sabotaged this.
There is a very good guide: Neighbourhood Policing, Neighbourhood Team Guide which was published by the Home Office, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, ACPO, the Local Government Association and the Association of Police Authorities in 2006. an extract from this Guide says:
The public's sense of safety and their confidence in the police are as important as reducing crime and disorder. With our partners we need to work with communities not only to make neighbourhoods safe, but to make them feel safe too. Here, the citizen's perspective matters more than any other. To really understand neighbourhoods and the issues that concern local people we must see the world through their eyes. This is critical in relation to hard to reach/hear groups so that no group is inadvertently excluded. To do this we need to listen - really listen to the people who live with the problems - understand, act and feed back. (my emboldening)
Perhaps someone should get one for last night’s tribunal members.