Police have reassured residents of Wrexham , and specifically Caia Park, that efforts have not diminished in dealing with arson concerns.
Inspector Mark Williams told us that the figures for recorded arson showed “no spike over the last twelve months”, detailing a breakdown showing an average of 23 incidents a year. It was pointed out that acts of ‘arson’ can range from a bag of grass cuttings or a car being set on fire, but all are recorded as ‘arson’ in the statistics.
Looking back to figures from 2006 he stated there has been a 36% reduction in crime and said this was a “direct result of policing and partnerships in place to reassure people they can report crime and it will be investigated thoroughly.”
Chief Inspector Alex Goss said “A lot of work is going on in Caia and other areas with a multi agency approach to counter arson and the perception of arson”.
The local media were criticised at the press briefing with the police stating they had seen a ‘spike’ in crime ‘following sensationalised news stories’. Specifically “sensationalised headlines” were mentioned saying that as well as possibly causing a spike in criminal activity they ‘could be seen as a badge of honour’.
Chief Inspector Goss went on to say “We have more staff in Caia than ever before”.
“Officers visibility is monitored and I am confident they are spending time where they should be.”
Details of policing numbers were given , with three ‘beat managers’ aka policepeople , plus six community support officers in the area. This was broken down further, with one being assigned per ward with one extra as cover. It was pointed out that after incidents in November there was an extra focus, funded by overtime, however that has scaled back as it couldn’t be sustained.
Alison Smallwood, from the Wrexham Community Safety Partnership said activity had taken place to engage younger people “We have been into youth clubs and run awareness events in Caia”. Further details were given regarding council house tenants who have a ‘good behavior clause’ in their lease which also covers visitors and family who could be in the property.
“It could be possible in extreme circumstances people could be evicted” however we asked if that had happened yet and were told no, but the process has occurred for cases involving anti social behavior.
Practical ideas that are being carried out in Caia and around town include:
- Offering skips to remove unwanted furniture to take away the risk of flammable items being left in the area.
- Making use of the ‘OWL’ system and raising its profile so people get relevant alerts (more on OWL here).
- Exploring if current text message systems in schools could be used to relay specific messages to raise community awareness.
- Extra ‘in the community’ activities involving schools, youth clubs and adults.
- The causes of arson are also going to be explored deeper with a piece of research being commissioned and worked on with Glyndwr University looking into the reasons why people commit arson.
As expected no information was offered on ongoing investigations, however it was mentioned that there is ‘proactive work based on intelligence’ happening and when asked if there was a target for an investigation a reply of “Its fair to say there isnt one group” however “certain individuals will get more attention”. An insight to a joined up approach was given, with the police working with youth justice and probation services to tackle any ongoing problems.
CCTV Advances In Wrexham & Your Chance To Help!
Chief Inspector Goss told us that Caia is currently under the usual CCTV systems, which is linked to Wrexham’s main CCTV system and monitored 24/7. These feeds are viewable not only in Wrexham but at the Police and Fire headquarters as well. He said “To supplement this the Arson Reduction Team has deployed overt – not covert – CCTV systems”. These are smaller CCTV units that are visibly deployed in potential troublespots.
Community Council’s are also looking to fund their own CCTV systems, which despite recent reports are not a new idea, and North Wales Police pointed out they themselves first offered the idea to the local community council. Wrexham Council have supported the move, offering their help to mount them on any lamp post in the county.
North Wales Police are also asking for members of the public to help out, by letting them know if they run a CCTV system. Currently after a crime is committed police have to go door to door and ask to discover if there is any private CCTV, they are looking to change this by creating a confidential list of ‘private’ CCTV systems to make such information easier to acquire.
North Wales Police have said “As an example if a crime has taken place and the offenders have run off down the street, if they knew what properties in that area had CCTV, they would be able to contact you to see if your system has captured these offenders and assist them in detecting the crime.” It has been made clear that any information would only be used for policing purposes.
Anyone who wishes to get involved are asked to email PC1409 Hazel Goss – email@example.com who will then send you a CCTV questionnaire for you to complete.