News story

Bristol police volunteers win Big Society Award

Prime Minister's Big Society Awards recognise Police volunteers in Bristol after 50% drop in "distraction burglaries".

A support service helping to prevent doorstep crime against senior citizens has been named as the latest Big Society Award winner by Prime Minister David Cameron. The Bristol-based group, staffed by police, police staff, and members of the community, who volunteer their time to help provide crime prevention guidance to thousands of senior citizens, as well as initiating a support group for those who have been the unfortunate victims of crime.

The Senior Citizens Liaison Team has taken neighbourhood policing beyond the call of duty by organising Safety and Awareness fairs in local crime hotspots.

Since January 2010, officers have volunteered their time and expertise to help the most vulnerable members of the community while reducing targeted crime. In the first year of the operation, the total number of “distraction burglaries” in Bristol dropped by nearly 50% (from 169 to 93 reported cases).

The ‘Senior Siren’ newsletter was also launched to reach the less mobile residents of the local area. It’s popularity has gone from strength to strength with readership expanding from 5000 to 200,000 in just 5 editions. The newsletter gives advice on how to deal with - and prevent - doorstep crime, as well as containing expert contributions from specialists such as Trading Standards.

In the knowledge that many elderly victims are re-targeted by criminals, caseworkers have been assigned to victims to help them overcome the distress caused  to encourage them to and socialise with others who have been through similar experiences. Organising trips to local attractions for victims has galvanised a community of senior citizens in Bristol, who now feel safer in their own homes.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

The police do a fantastic job keeping people safe but unfortunately tackling crimes like distraction burglaries relies on people having the information and confidence to keep themselves safe.  It is great to see officers and volunteers in Bristol giving up their own time to help raise awareness among older, vulnerable people in the local community to prevent them from becoming victims.

Halving the number of distraction burglaries in Bristol in their first year of operation is a huge achievement by the Senior Citizens Liaison Team and I’m pleased to be able to give them this award to make that success.

Chief Constable Colin Port OBE said:

Over the last year the team have made a real effort to improve the lives of the senior citizens of Bristol.

Peggy Brookes, aged 91 from Bristol said:

I was conned by 2 men who pretended to help with my garden. I lost my savings that day, but my greatest loss was my sense of security. After meeting Ryan from the scheme things got a lot better. They arranged for better security at my home and for my garden to be looked after by a local charity. Finally, after months of fear, I can once again sleep soundly.

Sgt Ashley Jones Project Director said: 

Older adults have more complex needs than others and often have a more acute fear of crime and it was with the simple goal of helping to alleviate these fears that we formed the Senior Citizen Liaison Team in 2009.

Over the last 4 years we have engaged with thousands of vulnerable, older adults in the Avon and Somerset area, and  have supported many victims of crime with one-to-one help in overcoming their fears and given them confidence to win the ‘Battle of the Doorstep’ against bogus callers or rogue traders who may attempt to target them.

Over the first 3 years of our existence (2010 to 2012), we were delighted to have contributed to the 56% reduction in reported distraction burglary in our operating area, but we know there is still much more to achieve. We are delighted to have been selected as the winners of a Big Society Award and will use the added impetus that this has given us, to renew our commitment to serving the older adult population of the UK’.

Notes to editors

For Images please go to: https://www.yousendit.com/download/UW13eFlabWdmVFkxZXNUQw

Laura Piscaer
Communications Manager - The Big Society Network
Tel: 020785895
laura@thebigsociety.co.uk

For more information on the Senior Citizens Liaison Team Please contact:

Sgt Ashley Jones on 01934 812280 or Ashley.Jones@avonandsomerset.pnn.police.uk

On the Senior Citizens Liaison Team

The SCLT has a simple aim: to provide its victim support and crime prevention Team by offering a tailored policing team to the older adult population. The ethos which underpins all SCLT activity is simple, ‘If you have contact with the Senior Citizen Liaison Team, you are far less likely to become a victim of crime’.

On the Big Society Awards

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.

The award focuses upon 3 specific areas.

Outstanding Contribution to Community

  • people, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
  • projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
  • people, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community

Improving Lives and Society through Innovation, Collaboration and New Partnerships

  • people and organisations taking new approaches to public services
  • successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities

Engaging in Social Action

  • people, projects and organisations taking action in their community
  • working together for social change (e.g. through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
  • generosity of time, money, skills and other resources - in support of social action

Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:

There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.

These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.

Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. Twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.

64 winners have been announced to date, including:

  • Bevendean Local Action Team - The Bevendean Local Action Team falls within the Bevendean ward in Brighton and Hove, east Sussex. It covers the area of Lower Bevendean, including The Avenue. The LAT meets every six weeks at the Bevendean Community Church Hall on Norwich Drive and is chaired by William Gandy. The meeting is run for and by residents, and invited guests include ward councillors, Police/PCSOs for the area, Antisocial Behaviour Team, Brighton University Community Liaison Officer, City Clean, Trust for Developing Communities and anyone else we believe will help attain our aims         
  • Online Watch Link (OWL) - Gary Fenton invented a website to help people set up their own Neighbourhood Watch groups. It has been rolled out across the country
  • Digi Steps - The students from Avonbourne School, Bournemouth have been encouraging would be silver surfers to get online through one-to-one after school lessons, where the pupils show the more senior students internet skills such as using email, video calls, booking train tickets, selling online and researching their hobbies. The overall aim of the project is to prevent digital exclusion and create links between two elements of the community who would otherwise rarely meet

For a full list of winners visit http://www.bigsocietyawards.org 

The Community Life Survey is a new survey commissioned by Cabinet Office to provide Official Statistics on issues that are key to encouraging social action and empowering communities, including volunteering, giving, community engagement and well-being.

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