I hope it is not boastful to say that, in my opinion, there are few better feelings than the sense of satisfaction when an idea comes off. Especially when that idea has been questioned or criticised in the first place.
That was the response when I spotted the opportunity to secure a new neighbourhood engagement vehicle for the Constabulary. We call him NEV for short because the police love an acronym.
It was August 2013 and the country was in the early years of a period of time that came to be defined by a single word, ‘Austerity’. Just like now, only for different reasons, public finances were under pressure. Budgets were squeezed and services cut as the need to save money became more desperate. For the Constabulary, the closure of many local police stations was the most apparent, less well known was the demise of the ‘Bobby bus’, which, rather like the mobile library, offered a peripatetic service.
It was a very difficult time calling for difficult decisions. That is why I have never criticised previous administrations; but I have always believed in neighbourhood policing and felt the police were losing touch with the communities they serve and NEV was an early means of restoring that relationship.
Formerly owned by Firestone Tyres, I was able to acquire it second hand and kit it out without breaking the bank. Seven years later, not only is NEV a familiar face with many local communities dealing with a huge range of queries, he has a younger sibling CEV – community engagement vehicle – also bought second hand from EDF.
NEV and CEV are extremely flexible and although most often used as a local information point, they can adapt very quickly to an emergency or a sudden spike in crime by linking in with other neighbourhood police teams on specific operations.
Another advantage is that both vehicles are operated by a dedicated team of two very knowledgeable PCSOs who are managed through the Constabulary’s communications and engagement department. It means they are able to respond to community concerns in a much more dynamic way as they understand neighbourhood policing and have a vast knowledge of the issues that affect the communities in which they operate.
So, next time NEV is down your way, why not pop along and say ‘Happy birthday’.