Staying in touch during the pandemic
I lead a team of PCs and PCSOs called the Safer Neighbourhood Team.
We work to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in this area.
We are based at Hitchin Police Station but we also conduct regular patrols and hold socially-distanced surgeries or other events so that residents can continue to raise issues or concerns.
Read on to find out about more ways to stay in touch.
Sergeant Gus Westwood
How we are working to keep your neighbourhood safe
Throughout the year, your Safer Neighbourhood Team sets priorities for policing in this area.
These priorities are based on reports or feedback from the public. We then work with our partners, including the local council, to tackle these issues. These priorities are discussed and updated throughout the year at priority-setting events. We advertise these events regularly on social media and OWL.
Burglary has been highlighted as a concern within our rural communities so we have been carrying
out regular Safer Street campaigns throughout the rural villages, signing up more households to
Neighbourhood Watch and OWL (Online Watch Link). This allows us to share information about crime and crime prevention with local residents, which is often specific to an area or even a road where a crime has occurred. We have been conducting targeted burglary patrols in hotspot areas, as well as forging closer links with partner organisations and our colleagues in Bedfordshire to
tackle cross-border crime.
Many rural residents have become increasingly concerned about anti-social behaviour during the pandemic. This often relates to people spending more time outside in public spaces such as recreation grounds, playing fields and parks. We have seen an increase in calls regarding potential drug use, noise and COVID-19 breaches with young people gathering in groups. We have included
all such areas in our patrols to disrupt any such activity, and educate any young people still gathering.
Fly-tipping is another area of concern among our rural communities.
North Herts District Council (NHDC) is the lead agency in this area for tackling this however we work closely with their enforcement team to carry out joint operations and days of action. These events involve pursuing offenders and conducting regular stop checks on vehicles carrying waste materials.
echo - what matters most
You can use our community voice platform ‘echo’ to let us know what you think we should be prioritising in your area.
Your feedback will help towards shaping our local policing priorities, plans and campaigns.
OWL - Online Watch Link
Sign up to OWL to receive email updates from local police and Neighbourhood Watch officers about crime and anti-social behaviour in your area.
The updates are free and include relevant crime prevention advice.
A message from Chief Inspector James Lant
2020 was a difficult year for everyone, but particularly emergency workers.
However, my officers and staff continue to work hard to keep you safe and I feel very proud of what we have achieved. I am also grateful to the partner agencies who work with us so we can serve the communities of North Herts as a collective.
Last year, 21 new officers joined us, with a further nine starting this year. Some of them have transferred from other forces, so bring a wealth of skills and expertise with them.
Life still remains very different and we have had to be creative around how we work and how we engage with communities, but I’m pleased to say North Herts remains one of the highest performing areas within the county, both in terms of crime rates and positive outcomes.
Why make it easy for thieves?
There has been an increase in thefts of items left inside cars and vans in the area.
One factor behind these crimes is that some owners leave their vehicles unlocked. This creates an easy opportunity for thieves.
They can gain access to your car or van quickly and quietly and take anything left inside. Many of the vehicles targeted recently were thoroughly searched by the thief.
We urge you to remove all items from inside your car and van before leaving it unattended. Most thieves are opportunists and would likely move on to an easier target if the vehicle was locked and no items were left inside.
Make sure car keys are kept out of reach of young children so they cannot play with them and accidentally unlock the vehicle. And be aware of anyone acting suspiciously around you when you lock or unlock your vehicle. Some thieves use devices that can ‘read’ the key’s signal so they can copy it to unlock your car later.
Park on your driveway and use your security lights and video-recording doorbells if you have them.
Your police force working for you
As well as your Safer Neighbourhood Team, there are many more policing teams working in this area, and across the county, to keep you safe.
Our “Intervention” teams respond to emergencies and reports of crime, missing people or other urgent incidents. There is also a detective team who investigate crimes including burglaries. Volunteer police officers from the Special Constabulary also provide support.
There is also a wide range of countywide specialist teams that work to investigate complex crimes, protect people and pursue offenders.
Collaborated teams such as the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit and Major Crime Unit work to keep our motorways safe and investigate the most serious crimes. We also work with partners including other police forces and law enforcement agencies to tackle cross-border crimes such as county drug lines and organised crime.
Protecting people from domestic abuse
The pandemic and associated restrictions have brought many challenges to individuals and families.
For people living with domestic abuse, it has been particularly difficult. Many were left feeling more isolated and vulnerable due to the measures. Early reports in lockdown also suggested that perpetrators may be using the restrictions to wield more control over their partners.
As a result we as a force stepped up our response to domestic abuse. Working with partner agencies, we jointly-launched a social media and advertising campaign to let people know that help and support were available despite the restrictions on daily life.
As well as investigating crimes, our specialist Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit has helped many people get into safe accommodation or apply for injunctions that will protect them and their families.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 0300 790 6772* for advice and support.
Remember - domestic abuse isn’t just about violence. It can be psychological, sexual or financially controlling behaviour. There’s no need to suffer in silence.
* This number operates 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Calls outside of these hours may be diverted to a national helpdesk.
How to contact us
For general enquiries or to report a crime after the event:
- Report online.
- Use our webchat service by clicking on the green button on this website.
- Call us on 101. (101 calls cost 15p per call but you can call 01707 354000 instead if your call plan includes free calls to 01 numbers).
In an emergency, always dial 999. An emergency is when:
- A crime is in progress or a suspect is nearby.
- Someone is injured, threatened or in immediate danger.
- There is a risk of injury or serious damage.
- You need immediate police assistance.
Your Safer Neighbourhood Team
Your Safer Neighbourhood Team is based at:
Hitchin Police Station
To contact the team or to make an appointment to speak with them, please email them or call 101.
You can follow local police at:
Other useful local contacts
Protect your money
Fraudsters continue to target Hertfordshire residents and are becoming increasingly more sophisticated.
Find out how to spot a scam and protect yourself online and offline. If you think you have been the victim of fraud, report via Action Fraud (opens in a new window) or call 0300 123 2040.
We’re recruiting now
If you or someone you know would like to become a police officer, we’re now offering a new educational route into policing, called Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF).
We’re also recruiting police community support officers (PCSOs) and voluntary roles including part-time special constables. Find out about all of our current vacancies.
PCC plans largest force in history of Hertfordshire
We all know that 2020 was different, difficult and challenging but the plan to build Hertfordshire’s largest ever police force remains on track.
Officer numbers in the county are already higher than a decade ago and are on course to increase to 2,314, the highest number ever, by early 2023. At the start of 2020 an overwhelming majority of residents told me they were happy to pay an average of £10-a-year more council tax to support the increase. I hope you are reassured that even after this increase, you continue to pay one of the lowest precept contributions for policing in England and Wales.
Due to the running of an effective and efficient constabulary, I have ensured that Hertfordshire is one of the few counties to maintain a dedicated local policing model. Each of our 10 districts has at least one fully-operational police station, complete with neighbourhood officers and emergency response teams. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has rated policing in Hertfordshire as ‘good’ across all areas including keeping people safe and reducing crime.
Wider work with partner agencies to reduce offending and to deliver on the public’s priorities has been conducted thanks to funding from my Criminal Justice Innovation Fund, Action Fund and Road Safety Fund.
My Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan called “Everybody’s Business” is at the heart of what the constabulary and I do to maintain Hertfordshire as one of the safest counties in the country. I would encourage you all to read it on the PCC website (opens in a new window).
New officers for stations across North Herts
As one of the county’s largest districts, North Herts brings challenges in terms of rural crime, as well as those associated with larger towns. Extra officers are being posted to stations in Letchworth, Hitchin and Royston.
I have ensured that members of the public can contact local officers by email to report a concern or a crime – contact details are in this newsletter. Or if you prefer you can visit them at the police station – just call 101 and make an appointment.
Fly tipping has increased in rural areas during the pandemic, but I am pleased that North Herts District Council is signed up to my scheme, which enables those who have rubbish dumped on their land to have it removed for free. So far two privately owned sites in the district have been cleared by the pilot project.
My Action Fund also financed a conflict resolution service in North Herts which is working alongside police officers and PCSOs when dealing with low-level neighbour and family disputes. We will continue to tackle speeding vehicles in rural villages. This year I will take delivery of two new speed-camera enabled Road Safety vans, which will be deployed to those areas where the community raises concerns.
David Lloyd - Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire
Dedicated service for every victim in Hertfordshire
In the unlikely event of becoming a victim of crime, it is important to know that you are entitled to support and services.
I am keen to ensure people are aware of their rights and entitlements, while remaining informed on each step of the journey in the aftermath of a crime.
For the past five years Hertfordshire’s Beacon victim care centre has been providing free and confidential advice to support adults and children who have been a victim of crime. They can provide practical and emotional support; advice and information; advocacy and restorative justice (the opportunity to communicate with the perpetrator if appropriate).
Two new specialist units have been created to assist victims of domestic abuse and those suffering from anti-social behaviour. Beacon already has the UK’s first dedicated Fraud Hub who contact every person in the county who has fallen victim to the crime.
Beacon’s services are available to all victims, including those who have chosen not to report the crime to the police.
The Beacon Helpline is open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
Hertfordshire is a safe place to live and work, but should you ever become a victim of crime then the Beacon team is available to help you.
Contact the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire
To contact the Commissioner or find out more about his work and his new Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan, visit his website (opens in a new window) or email.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
Harpenden Police Station
15 Vaughan Road
Or call 01707 806100.
You can follow the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire at: