In the early stages of the pilot scheme, the Home Front team at Arborfield carried out a consultation with the community to ascertain what issues they had. This was done via a questionnaire, which considered both crime related and quality of life issues. The feedback from the consultation enabled the team to prioritise issues and begin work with the community to resolve them.
Litter, speeding and pet fouling were the main issues raised at the time, so the team wasted no time in getting some community initiatives together; a “lower the litter” event was organised and residents volunteered to help picking up litter around the garrison. The positive impact evidenced from this simple initiative was that residents were now taking ownership of their areas and a sense of community was becoming apparent. The residents could also see that the Home Front Team was working with them, when following the event more bins were installed in more appropriate locations throughout the garrison. The garrison residents are now included in regular clean up events organised by the local authority; the significant impact of this being that service communities are less insular, integrating more with the local community and taking ownership of their areas.
In order to address the issue of speeding, MDP researched recorded traffic incidents and undertook a traffic survey, which revealed that the perception of speeding on the garrison was in fact greater than that of actual incidents of speeding; this was something positive that the team could feed back to residents. Thames Valley Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) trained residents in using speed indicator devices, so again there was significant positive impact on the garrison community, with both service and civilian residents volunteering to train with the PCSOs and taking ownership of their areas. Furthermore, the uniform presence on the garrison, impacted on the garrison community by providing reassurance and improving community safety and security.
The Dog Warden from the local authority visited the garrison regularly and successfully worked with residents in relation to the pet fouling problems. Residents provided details and locations of persistent offenders and they were dealt with accordingly. Educating the garrison community, had a significant impact on their quality of life and indeed on the Defence Community Police Officer (DCPO) for Arborfield; the community are now aware of a variety of agencies to report to in relation to non police matters, meaning that the DCPO can be more effective in carrying out his core policing tasks.
The team are able to communicate regularly with the community via a bi monthly newsletter, which is published in the local Parish Council Magazine. These newsletters continue to date and offer topical advice and information.
In 2006, the Home Front Team organised a community fun day event to formally launch Home Front. All partner agencies contributed towards the event, which was so successful, it developed into an annual event; this year, the Army took ownership of the event and it was attended by approximately 2500 people from the garrison and surrounding areas. This evidences the enhanced sense of community at Arborfield and improved integration of communities, service and civilian alike.
A more high profile initiative, which the Home Front team undertook in 2007, following the Home Front pilot scheme on Arborfield Garrison was to combat “Cold Calling”. The residents were telling the team that they were being “plagued” with cold callers and this was very unwanted. Supporting evidence in relation to this initiative is attached and the No Cold Calling Zone remains in place to date with continued success.
In 2010, following a complaint from a resident to Trading Standards in relation to a cold caller, Trading Standards requested that MDP follow up on challenges to the No Cold Calling Zone from a power providing company. A letter resulted in a very successful outcome; not only did the company representative agree to remove the addresses within the No Cold Calling Zone from his list to call on, but he informed the Energy Retail Association of the Zone in order that all major power providers could be made aware.
What the residents of Arborfield Garrison have said:
- “Great initiative – very proactive”
- “Makes a difference to mothers with young children”
- “We have a real sense of community here – this initiative has helped”