A West Midlands Police Oscott Neighbourhood Team public meeting took place at Maryvale Institute yesterday (Tuesday 24 Jan) evening.
It was attended by:
- 1 Police officer (Sergeant Dave Bebb)
- 2 Police Community Support officers (Wendy Woakes & Sally Gough)
- 1 Priest (Father Tony Jones)
- 2 Councillors (Dring & Green)
- 1 B44 blogger (yours truly)
- 25 other B44 residents
We were first welcomed by Father Tony Jones, Maryvale’s Estate Director, who briefly outlined Maryvale Institute‘s role as an educational centre for people of the Catholic faith.
Sergeant Bebb then introduced himself and his two PCSO collegues, explaining that other members of his team were busy patrolling the local streets to ensure that we weren’t burgled while we were at the meeting! He said he had been in his current, Oscott Neighbourhood Team, role for 18 months, but had been a police officer for 20 years, including some time as a detective.
He said that he and his team want to address local people’s concerns, and get a wide cross-section of the community involved in their work. He explained that his team covers the whole of the Oscott Ward, and has good recent record for reducing crime, although vehicle crime (theft of and from vehicles) had seen a 9% increase in recent weeks.
However, in and around Templeton Road, the crime rate is higher than rest of ward. In particular, three recent break-ins had occurred when thieves accessed properties from the right-of-way linking Templeton Road and Old Oscott Hill. Sgt Bebb said that this had been the cause of long term problems.
Father Jones commented that £15,000 of lead had been taken from the roof at Maryvale in November; the thieves removed a concrete wall to reach it.
A local resident asked “Why can’t we have gates, we’ve been broken into three times in 20 years”, to which Sgt Bebb explained that a legal right-of-way cannot be closed without agreement after a public consultation, and that some users of the right-of-way have objected to the proposed closure. He would support closure, and in the meantime regular police patrols check the right-of-way.
A suggestion to stop unauthorised vehicles without blocking access for pedestrians, as a “plan B”, received some support.
Father Jones said that if the right-of-way is not closed, then it would need to be very well lit, as women staff at Maryvale currently won’t use it at night.
Another resident called for the use of CCTV and Sgt Bebb commented that it the cost of this is currently being assessed.
Discussion then turned to two clusters of recent burglaries. These have taken place during late afternoon/ early evening, as people’s houses are dark & empty. Entry has mostly been made via a rear door or window; or in some cases by using flat roof to reach an upstairs window.
Sgt Bebb encouraged residents to take precautions, including:
- use a timer switch to have a light come on at dusk, even if the house is empty
- make sure access gates are always kept locked
- check boundary fences are in good order
- remove newspapers/ circulars left sticking through letterboxes; push them through, for your neighbours, if they’re out
Suggestions of possible drug dealing at a named location, reported by a resident, will be investigated.
Sgt Bebb gave advice on avoiding thefts from vehicles, including always cleaning SatNav sucker marks from windscreens and not keeping SatNavs or other valuables in glove-boxes when the vehicle is parked.
A resident complained about dangerous speeding on Oscott Hill, especially given the schools there. Sgt Bebb agreed to conduct speed checks.
In closing, Sgt Bebb thanked everyone for attending, and Father Jones for the use of the hall. He reiterated his wish to have more engagement with the community, which would help to reduce crime, and encouraged people to report suspicious activity, and to feel free to contact him or his colleagues about any concerns. Finally, he reminded everyone that, despite the issues discussed, Oscott is one of the safest places in Birmingham to live.
The West Midlands Police Oscott Neighbourhood Team can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or the new West Midlands Police non emergency number 101, extension 7851 6962. In emergency, dial 999.
The team’s next public meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm on Thursday 2 February 2012 at Greenholm School, Greenholm Road, Great Barr.