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Meet the police at your pub

PUBLISHED: 10:29 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:37 07 July 2010

PCSO Paul Frostwick meets up with the landlord of The Swan Inn at Gressenhall, Steve Goldsmith and his partner Carlie Hawkins.

PCSO Paul Frostwick meets up with the landlord of The Swan Inn at Gressenhall, Steve Goldsmith and his partner Carlie Hawkins.

Rob Garratt

Police are heading to pubs in the Dereham area to launch a new rural charm offensive.

It sounds like the kind of scene from a bygone age - bumping into your local bobby at the village booxer for a drink and a friendly natter.

Police are heading to pubs in the Dereham area to launch a new rural charm offensive.

It sounds like the kind of scene from a bygone age - bumping into your local bobby at the village booxer for a drink and a friendly natter.

But that's exactly the mood police are trying to conjure by sending officers out to meet, greet and blend in with the locals.

The move is the brainchild of Sgt Mark Goodbody who says too many villages around Dereham are neglected by police simply for the offence of having a very low crime rate.

“There are 42 parishes in our area and we're very conscious that we spend the vast amount of time in one of them - Dereham.

“There are several villages that are so isolated they can go for months without seeing a police officer. They may be very low crime but that doesn't mean they don't have problems that we can assist them with.”

While community policing meetings are regularly held in parishes across the county, the Dereham Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) is hoping to recruit a whole new - and larger - turnout for its meetings by hosting them in pubs.

Sgt Goodbody added: “If you book a village hall very few people show up - you'll get the chairman of the parish council and not a lot else.

“Meetings like this work best if you go to where people congregate anyway, and down the pub people talk more openly and are more likely to tell us what they actually think.

“Hopefully it will also show we're not just robots travelling round in cars nicking people, we do have other sides and enjoy a laugh as well.”

But Sgt Goodbody was quick to dispel any suggestion that the bobbys might enjoy a cheeky drink on the beat.

He added: “I am afraid our image wouldn't be so good if we were buying people beers.”

The move comes after the public asked the SNT for more to done to engage with rural communities at a meeting of the Dereham Community Action Group.

Officers from the Dereham SNT will visit pubs in each of eight rural patches it covers, with the first meeting already booked at Gressenhall's Swan Inn on Saturday, between 1pm and 3pm.

Joining Sgt Goodbody at The Swan will be the Scarning and Springvale liaison officers PC Mathew Paine and PSCO Paul Frostwick.

Other pubs that have agreed to host meetings, with dates yet to be set, are the Railway Free House in North Elmham, the Fox and Hounds in Lyng, the Swan at Mattishall and the Angel in Swanton Morley.

Steve Goldsmith, landlord of the Swan, said: “It's very unusual, a lot of locals had a bit of a shock when I told them - but it's the best place for a meeting really, customers who can just wander over and have a chat, and it should bring a bit more community to the pub.”

To contact Dereham SNT call 0845 456 4567 or email sntdereham@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

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