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Police and community learn to be partners

Community spirit: Sylvia Chenery, from Applied Criminology Associates, seen with Chief Inspector Jerome Laws, said she saw “huge” progress in how the Island deals with problems (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Criminologist and consultant Sylvia Chenery is back in Bermuda to run Police and their community partners through an intensive two weeks of Problem Oriented Policing and Partnership training (POPP).

The good news is that after nearly seven years of courses, she sees “huge” progress in how the Island deals with its own issues.

“This is a small place, still very much a community — if POPP can work anywhere, it will work here,” she told The Royal Gazette after yesterday’s round of classes, with neighbourhood watch coordinators accompanied by Community Action Team officers from the central parishes.

“This is about how the Police and their professional partners within Bermuda work alongside the community,” Ms Chenery explained, praising the enthusiastic reception that has attended her latest course.

The POPP philosophy begins with “taking problems and working with those who work and live in the area to deal with it”, she said.

Along with Police, the lectures have included groups from Works and Engineering, Waste Management, drug agencies, religious organisations, parish councils, schools, hotels, and Police Reserves.

Ms Chenery, who is fond of the expression that “the answer to your problem is in someone else’s pocket”, recalled that a scan of newspapers and radio upon her first visit to Bermuda gave her a drastically different view of the Island than the one she has now.

“There was very little positive news about Police,” she said. “I think things have changed on both sides.

“It comes with effort. The fact that they make the investment for me to come here and work with people is a sign that they want things to improve.

“Problems are resolved from the group up, with the support of the Government and legislation, but actually if you really want to have a sustainable solution, it has to come from within the community and your partners on the ground.”

Three Inspectors are overseeing the POPP initiative.

According to Chief Inspector Jerome Laws, more than 100 members of the community were invited to take part in five one-day training sessions with Police.

“That’s unusual in itself,” Ms Chenery said. “It’s a new concept to get the community to come to training schools.”

Issues examined through the POPP philosophy have ranged from road collisions, drugs, antisocial behaviour and bullying in schools to house burglaries.

The consultant comes from her own firm, Applied Criminology Associates, based in West Yorkshire in the UK.

Along with POPP training, she will assist Police in rewriting their outdated officers’ manual during her two weeks on the Island.

Asked where Bermuda still needs to improve, Ms Chenery said: “The willingness is there; the partnerships are there.

“What we need now is the proper coordinator — someone needs to coordinate so that it’s carried on and progresses.”