St Albans to have third chief inspector in one year as Lynda Coates takes up post

Ch Insp Lynda Coates. Picture: Herts police.

Ch Insp Lynda Coates. Picture: Herts police. - Credit: Archant

Amid rising violent crime in St Albans district, Herts police has announced the district is to get its third chief inspector in a year.

Ch Insp Stuart Cheek, who only became the area’s top cop in March, has been made head of the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit in Hatfield.

Ch Insp Lynda Coates, whose previous post was as a detective in a child protection investigation team, has taken over his role managing 100 officers, three Safer Neighbourhood Teams, the Local Crime Unit, the Community Safety Unit and the special constables.

She said: “I want to help people, keep people safe, reduce crime and catch people committing crime. I want to make sure my officers are highly visible; keep people updated about crimes that are emerging and on crimes they have been victims of, and focus on crimes causing the most harm within communities.

“In the St Albans district, burglary, vehicle crime and rural crime are our main priorities. I’d like to build on the great work Ch Insp Cheek has done to decrease all reported crime in the district, especially violent crime.”

In the year ending March 2018, crime in St Albans increased 17 per cent and robberies increased 116 per cent.

In the last month, a 14-year-old boy has appeared in St Albans Crown Court charged with attempted murder, which was related to an alleged stabbing in Verulamium Park in June.

There was also a confirmed stabbing on Catherine Street, near the city centre, in August.

Ch Insp Cheek said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working for the St Albans district and I’m sad to be leaving such a fantastic team and a great community. Since I joined, we have seen a small overall decrease in reported crime, started to decrease burglary offences and increased the number of offenders being arrested and charged with residential burglaries. I know Lynda will be a great asset to the district with all her experience and I wish her well.”

Ch Insp Coates said: “Residents can support the work of my officers by taking some personal responsibility for keeping themselves and their property safe by using crime prevention advice, reporting suspicious activity and joining schemes like Neighbourhood Watch. Please also make sure you securely lock your car.”

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The district has seen a considerable turnover of police officers this year with Insp Jon Roche also joining the St Albans team, Sgt Mark Williams joining the London Colney, St Stephens and St Albans East team, Sgt Paul Caro joining the St Albans Central, North and West team and Jordon Fox becoming Harpenden’s new neighbourhood sergeant.

Coates’ 23-year police career began in 1992 when she served as a special constable in Bedfordshire for three years while at university studying drama and criminal sociology, before joining the force in 1995 at age 21.

Having worked as a sergeant in St Albans in 2002, Coates was promoted to inspector in 2009, worked as the Detective Inspector for offender management and then headed up the Local Crime Team in North Herts.

During her career with Hertfordshire, she has worked on gang-related crimes, prolific offenders and offenders targeting children.

Ch Insp Coates said: “I was immediately impressed with the dedication of the St Albans, Harpenden and London Colney officers, who all work so well together as a team, with other agencies, to help keep the district safe.

“Living in a rural area myself, I am especially committed to dealing with rural crime and I understand the impact this has on local farmers. It is personal for me and I will do everything I can to help farmers and landowners and deal robustly with people committing rural crime.

“I’d like to see more people being prosecuted for fly-tipping and we work closely with St Albans council with this issue under Operation Kendal – just last month, we found 10 vehicles trading as waste carriers without a licence.”

She featured on the ITV series ‘Married to the Job’ in 2013, her spouse is a police officer, she has two children, lives in Bedfordshire and is planning to run the Harpenden Herts 10k next month.

To keep up-to-date with her on social media, follow @StAlbansChief on Twitter and the St Albans Community Safety Partnership Facebook page.