The Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) in Downpatrick and one of its members, Constable Caroline Owens, have been shortlisted as finalists in this year’s Police Service of Northern Ireland ‘Policing with the Community Awards’.
They will be competing against other nominees from across Northern Ireland with winners being announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 23rd October.
Constable Owens has been nominated in the Police Officer of the Year category, which is sponsored by the Northern Ireland Policing Board. Since joining Downpatrick NPT, she has been heavily involved in building relationships with communities to help tackle the issues that concern them in their day-to-day lives.
As an officer specifically tasked to the Meadowlands Estate, Constable Owens has worked closely with local young people organising activities like football sessions, and getting them involved in a project to help tidy up and have pride in their local area. She also assisted the Special Olympics group in Down in their fund-raising efforts.
Constable Owens has also gained a great deal of support from local people and councillors for a Halloween community beacon in the Knocknashinna area as a way of providing a diversion away from anti-social activity that has occurred in previous years.
The Downpatrick Neighbourhood Policing Team has also been nominated in the Neighbourhood Team of the Year category, which is sponsored by Sodexo.
Team members have spent several years developing their working relationships with residents, local political and community leaders and local businesses. They have encouraged local people to share their thoughts and concerns with them and have promoted greater engagement with police, emphasising that Downpatrick police care about their community and are interested in improving their quality of life.
Their community links have been built not just upon formal meetings and initiatives, but also on the ground with beat and cycle patrols out in the community daily meeting and mixing with local people. This personal contact has proven crucial in tackling and reducing the number of anti-social behaviour incidents in Downpatrick.
The NPT also helped establish a domestic violence workshop, involving several agencies to provide a ‘one stop shop’ at a local community centre. This work also involved providing information leaflets on domestic violence in several languages
Chief Superintendent Chris Noble, PSNI Service Improvement Department, said: “The ‘Policing With Community Awards’ scheme is designed to encourage and reward officers and staff who deliver the highest possible standards of policing for the community.
The categories cover a broad spectrum of policing activity, with a particular focus on how policing meets the needs and priorities of local communities.”
“I am pleased that two of the awards, ‘Police Officer of the Year’ and ‘Neighbourhood Policing Team of the Year’ are open to nominations from the public.
“It is interesting, encouraging and always thought-provoking for us to see what people in the community think of the job we are doing. That feedback gives us the assurance that we are delivering the personal, professional and protective policing we are so committed to, as well as the encouragement to do even better.
“I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to those who have made nominations; to all who work with us on Policing and Community Safety Partnerships; and to all who meet and communicate with us in a range of other ways.”
Superintendent Yvonne Davidson, C District Service Delivery, said: “I believe these nominations are indicative of the really excellent work taking place in our communities, with local police officers working in close partnership with local people towards building a safer society.
“Our neighbourhood police officers are in regular contact with groups and individuals throughout the District and the nominations we have received from our community for our officers are testimony to the good, positive relationships that have been established.”
The Policing with the Community Award scheme is celebrating its 10th year.
There are eight categories:
- Diversity in Action, sponsored by ARAMARK
- Volunteer of Year, sponsored by PSNI Service Improvement Department
- Personal Policing Service, sponsored by Tracker
- Professional Policing Service, sponsored by Barclaycard
- Protective Policing Service, sponsored by the Post Office
- Neighbourhood Policing Team, sponsored by Sodexo
- Police Staff Member of Year, sponsored by PSNI Service Improvement Department
- Police Officer of Year, sponsored by Northern Ireland Policing Board.
Each winner will receive a £1,500 bursary – to be spent on a Policing with the Community initiative within their area.