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19 March 2010, 10:16
Members of the community are being invited to advise their local police on issues such as murder, hate crime and anti-social behaviour.
Hampshire Constabulary are recruiting members of the community for local and specialist independent advisory groups (IAGs) to help develop better understanding of local communities by listening to their concerns and acting on feedback. Volunteer group members will be called upon to advise during major investigations, explore community issues and question police practices and policies. Membership to advisory groups used to be by invitation-only but is now open for anyone to apply.
Hampshire Constabulary currently has two IAGs, with members representing specialist areas such as race and faith and lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) issues. Following an internal review, IAGs will now also represent geographical areas.
Geographical IAGs will consider local issues including critical incidents, operational practice and planning and the local impact of decisions around force policy and procedure. The force level IAGs will remain, but will consider issues affecting the whole organisation, such as hate crime and knife crime.
IAGs have recently been used to gather information on community concerns after a double murder and suicide investigation in Aldershot last December, Operation Banyan.
Overseeing the IAG scheme, Deputy Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “IAGs have evolved over time and have been invaluable in consultation and during police operations. However, there are still some communities that we need to hear from and we would benefit from their independent advice. To make IAGs more effective, we need to get all communities involved, not just people who are already on board. We want to see different faces and hear different opinions to challenge the way we work. We understand that some communities do not trust the police because of their personal experiences, so it is important that we break down these barriers. IAGs will reflect the diversity of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – they will make sure people have their views heard and a chance to influence local policing.”
Hampshire Police Authority Chair Councillor Jacqui Rayment added her support to the role of IAGs: “Involving members of the local community is the best way to find out what issues people have about where they live, as we can then use this information to help improve the work of the police including preventing crime and dealing with offenders.”
Current chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) IAG, Chris said: “I've loved the chance to get involved and make a positive impact on policing - it makes me feel like I’ve made a difference. This is about feeding my perspective into policing issues to help the community. I don’t speak on behalf of LGBT people but on how I see things.”
IAGs will meet at least four times a year, with the first meeting expected to be held in June. However because of the unpredictable nature of policing, groups may be called as specific issues arise.
Hampshire Constabulary has set a target to recruit more than one hundred local advisors by April 19. To apply to become a member of your local IAG or for more information go to www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/jobs or call 023 8060 4755.