Meet St Albans’ and London Colney’s newest police officers
PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 March 2018
St Albans’ new Chief Inspector has said he will prioritise tackling burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles as he takes up his post as the district’s top cop.
Stuart Cheek joins Herts Constabulary from the Metropolitan Police, where he worked on child abuse investigations, counter-terrorism and tackled gangs and gun crime.
He admitted St Albans district was a “bit different”, but said: “Hopefully I can use some of the skills I have learned within London. It’s always an opportunity to take on a different challenge, as while St Albans is a safe place to live, there is still crime and still the fear of crime.”
He replaces Shane O’Neill, who has retired after 30 years’ service.
Ch Insp O’Neill said on his depature: “I’ve been very lucky to work with some fantastic officers who really want to make a difference and I will be very sad to leave St Albans, which is a city I know very well as I have strong family connections here.
“Chief Insp Cheek is going to be a real asset to St Albans and I wish him every success.”
The new chief inherits a team of over 100 officers and an ongoing burglary problem, which rose by 27 per cent between September 2016 and 2017.
“A key issue is residential burglary, clearly,” Ch Insp Cheek said. “Theft from motor vehicles is another priority, as is ensuring we are meeting the highest possible standards to protect vulnerable people.
“We will be doing everything we can and looking at emerging trends. The public are absolutely key and we need your help, so be prepared to come to us about incidents that concern you.”
The 40-year-old married father lives in the county with his 17-year-old stepson and 10-year-old daughter.
Police are issuing advice to make homes in the area less attractive to the transient criminals coming from outside the district, attracted by its affluence.
Ch Insp Cheek is one of a raft of new appointments to the district, which also includes Insp Jon Roche, who joins from Broxbourne and East Herts, having worked in cross-border drug investigations and armed response.
He said: “I know St Albans very well, having previously lived here and it is a lovely place to live and work.
“My job is to help keep it that way by stopping lower level anti-social behaviour escalating into more serious crime. While we can put things in place to stop and deter crime, we rely on members of the public to help us. We need to work towards a culture where policing is an equal partnership between the community, the police and other partner agencies and where the community feel some ownership over crime prevention in their neighbourhoods.
“Policing is becoming increasingly difficult due to the ever-changing demands. I’m really looking forward to the process of understanding the local problems, pulling it apart and finding long term solutions as opposed to being simply reactive.”
London Colney, St Stephens and St Albans East (also covering Smallford, Colney Heath, Bricket Wood and Chiswell Green) has a new sergeant, Mark Williams, who joins from Stevenage.
He replaces Rory Arnott, who has been promoted to Inspector and now investigates 999 and non-emergency calls as part of the Intervention team.
Sgt Williams said: “I expect my officers to be highly-visible on bikes or on foot.
“I will be building on the partnership work previously done, as crime and anti-social behaviour is not just a police issue.
“I’d also like to increase opportunities for residents to meet their local officers at regular community engagement events and do more Safer Streets events.”
Council and fire service representatives work with police at Safer Streets events to educate citizens about crime prevention.
Mark joined the Constabulary in 2002, the day after his 25th birthday, having previously fixed hardware in computers.
He said: “I’ve always been interested in joining the police and knew this was the job for me. Being in the police is challenging and rewarding and you never know what is going to happen during your shift.”
A new sergeant for St Albans central, North and West, Paul Caro, will start work shortly.
You can follow Ch Insp Cheek on Twitter @StAlbansChief and like his new Facebook page St Albans Community Safety Partnership.