Colleagues from the Building Safer Communities Programme visited Gowkthrapple late last year and you can read about their visit in this blog.
Paul and I were interested in Police Scotland’s approach and we were very impressed by
Susan and Fiona’s enthusiasm for and commitment to this taking an assets based approach. They spoke knowledgably about the community, the challenges residents face and their role as ‘beat cops’.
They took us to the Community Centre where we talked to residents and saw how positively they interacted with Susan and Fiona. It was clear how much had been done to build up the relationship between the community and the police. We heard that people felt safer and more able to refer concerns to Susan and Fiona when they saw them out and about in the community.
The community members I spoke to had clear ambitions to develop and grow. They spoke about the need for a homework club for local children which would ensure homework was done as well as providing a hot meal and some social activities. This was seen as an important part of giving children a better future.
We also visited the CentrePoint where we spoke to staff from Garrion Housing. They said that the visible presence of the police in the community had a positive effect. Issues raised by Garrion residents could be passed on quickly to Fiona and Susan and people were more willing to report crimes like housebreaking.
There’s still a lot to be done to bring the two parts of Gowkthrapple together and to build on the successes that we saw and heard about on our visit. The approach taken by Police Scotland fits very well with the Policing Principles set out in the legislation that brought about the single police service for Scotland. In particular the approach reflects the principle of Police Scotland working in collaboration with others to police in way that is accessible to and engaged with local communities, and promotes measures to prevent crime, harm and disorder.
Susan and Fiona clearly have a lot of experience and insight to offer to others involved in asset based approaches. Equally, they might be able to find some practical solutions to the issues that they face if they were part of a network involving others trying similar approaches in other parts of Scotland. It's good to hear that this is something that is being taken forward now by the Building Safer Communities Programme.
All in all we had a very interesting and thought-provoking morning. Paul and I would certainly recommend a visit to this or similar approaches if the opportunity arises.