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A SENIOR police officer has revealed plans to transform a system of monthly community meetings in Darlington by increasing public involvement, saying the current set up is not fit for purpose.
Chief Inspector Chris Reeves, neighbourhood policing manager for the town, said he would like to see the partners and communities together (Pact) meetings become more proactive and more community-led by involving local Neighbourhood Watch schemes and religious groups.
Chief Insp Reeves is looking for comments from people as to what they would like to see from community meetings and if there are better ways of passing information, or giving support, to individual residents.
The Pact system was set up three years ago as a chance for residents to meet with their ward councillors and local police officers and PCSOs once a month to highlight neighbourhood concerns, such as speeding or drug use, and come up with a plan to solve them.
But in recent months attendance at some meetings has dwindled and they are no longer seen as an effective way of bringing the community together.
Chief Insp Reeves said: "We've had a look at Pact across the whole borough and discovered that ten times more people follow us on Facebook and Twitter than attend Pact meetings.
"Some Pact meetings are still well attended but at some it is now very poor - we have somewhere we have two police officers waiting and no-one turns up, not even the ward councillors.
"We want to try and reenergise the Pact meetings so they become more than a mechanism for reporting crime and crime prevention - it could be more about community cohesion.
"For example during snow we get a Dunkirk spirit where people look out for older residents, but we forget that four days of heavy frost is just as likely to leave someone housebound. I want to create a system where we can put out alerts for neighbours to look out for vulnerable neighbours."
Suggestions about improvements or changes to the Pact system can be sent to Darlington reporter Vicki Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01325-505099.
The ideas will be passed to the Pact organisers who will see if they can be incorporated to the revived system.
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