PACT meetings – an example of localism at work

On Thursday night I attended the Cofton Hackett PACT (Partners and Communities Together) meeting, purely as an observer.

PACT meetings give local residents the chance to tell the local policing team, local authority and other partner agencies about the issues that are causing concern within their neighbourhood and attendees vote to prioritise which issues they want to be dealt with. Then the community work together to tackle the problems. Over 40 people attended the meeting and it was chaired very well, with points raised and discussed by any attendee.

The issues raised on the day were very local, and some may say low level, topics included: 

  • Gritting stations
  • Pothole repairs
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Crime incidents
  • Bus services
  • Flooding on roads, and
  • Litter

I was very impressed with how all the various parties worked together. It never got political and it was very much “what can we do to solve the issue.” Two examples were the Parish council had volunteers picking up litter, and there were also separate volunteers who’d grit the steep roads around Cofton Hackett.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Eden was also attending his first Cofton Hackett PACT meeting and he remarked how great it was to see so many people involved and the difference it can make to the community and his police force. In his words

“This is democracy in action.”

For me as a Liberal Democrat who believes in localism and want more decisions decided by local people, it was fantastic to see it in action and evidently working. The local residents in the community are the key to its success, as other PACT meetings in nearby Birmingham have been sparsely attended, so a huge pat on the back to the residents of Cofton Hackett.

Policing isn’t just about catching criminals but prevention too

I recently met with Inspector Dave Shaw and Sgt. Tim Harper at Bromsgrove Police station and we covered many topics ranging from crime rate to local cannabis farms but a couple of things stood out:

  • The work the police does with the local housing trust (BDHT), community groups, such as The Trunk and with the community via PACT (Partners and Communities Together) meetings. A lot of police work should obviously be on catching criminals but it was a good example of prevention and really getting to the causes of the problems. All solutions the Liberal Democrats back. 
  • The grey area of mentally unstable individuals and where the responsibility for them lie, it’s not always clear whether someone has a mental health issue or a personality disorder. The distinction is necessary, as with one definition the offender will be treated differently and by the NHS, otherwise its a police matter solely. The Liberal Democrats are proposing better mental health treatment on the NHS and those convicted of criminal offences.

On my last point, after my meeting I mentioned the mental health grey area to a youth offender worker who agreed it was very complicated but also that the worse thing you can do to those who have mental health issues is to lock them up with no treatment.

Meeting Inspector Dave Shaw

n.b. I should clarify that if an individual is classified as mentally ill then they are treated under the NHS, if it’s a personality disorder, then the NHS are not obliged to deal with them.