New Herts Police chief visits Redbourn rural crime initiative

PUBLISHED: 11:43 20 December 2011

The new Herts chief contstable toured the rural lanes of St Albans district. From left are: PCSO Alli Dewar, chief constable Andy Bliss, rural special constable Richard Downs, special constable Nigel Lacey and St Albans farmer Bill Barr.

The new Herts chief contstable toured the rural lanes of St Albans district. From left are: PCSO Alli Dewar, chief constable Andy Bliss, rural special constable Richard Downs, special constable Nigel Lacey and St Albans farmer Bill Barr.

Archant

A PILOT scheme trialling the use of a 4x4 in Redbourn to help Herts police fight crime in rural and remote areas has been such a success that the new Chief Constable wants the service expanded across the county.

Farmers, land owners, businesses and residents have helped contribute to the running and maintenance costs of a Land Rover for special constable Richard Downs, who received the vehicle at the end of April.

It allows Mr Downs to cover a large area, respond to problems and deter criminals and fly-tippers.

Special constables have the same power of arrest as regular officers but they are volunteers.

Mr Downs, a gamekeeper at Holtsmere End Farm, has so far clocked up 800 hours doing policing work and has covered 5,000 miles in both Redbourn and Watling.

A police spokeswoman said that the role of rural specials such as Mr Downs and his colleague, special constable Nigel Lacey, had proven an asset to regular officers in country areas, with crime in Redbourn alone dropping by 29 per cent since the end of April.

Chief constable Andy Bliss recently visited the village to see how the vehicle was being received by the community. He was very impressed with local support for the rural specials and the amount of cover provided by Mr Downs and the Land Rover.

Mr Bliss said he was reviewing future funding of the 4x4 as he would like the service expanded and developed across Herts.

His tour of the village including visiting Redbourn Parish Centre, where a room has been given rent-free to the police, and has been fitted out with an interview room. Mr Bliss also spoke with St Albans farmer Bill Barr, who supports the work of Mr Downs.

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