A few years ago, in response to an increase in crime in Totton, I helped organise and attended a public meeting in the town.

The local Superintendent for the New Forest (now retired) attended and answered questions.

Public meetings are almost always very poorly attended, even when people say they will come along.

It’s apparently a big difference between having a say on social media and actually giving up an evening to attend a meeting.

It might be different if enough people, really worried about the way local crime is increasing, responded.

Again, experience has taught me that there is no point in placing the blame on the shoulders of the police.

They want to reduce crime as much as everybody else, but the resources issue is what needs to be tackled.

The police cannot talk about specific crimes that are under investigation, but only in “general terms”.

The meeting that happened last time around had some limited value.

It enabled those that did attend to express their frustration to a senior officer.

Realistically, I don’t think he learnt anything more than he already knew.

As I have often reminded people, the days when Councillors or even the local MP had and real “say” over police matters has gone.

The Conservatives scrapped Police Authorities which were composed of locally elected Councillors who you could lobby.

Instead, we now have a Police & Crime Commissioner.

He has a website.

You can contact his staff by e-mail.

He won’t attend a public meeting, at least this side of May 4th because of the forthcoming elections (a period known as purdah), when it is not permissible for him to be seen engaging in events that could be construed as “political”.

If somebody wishes to organise a meeting after May 4th, I will gladly attend and contribute, but I won’t pretend that I, or any of my fellow Councilllor’s, have any influence over policing.

If the Liberal Democrats win back control over the powers that be, I will be pressing for a return to Police Authorities that worked very well at picking up and dealing with the sort of issues we are seeing locally.

For the time being, forget any ideas of “direct action” against those you “think” are committing crimes.

If you have any useful information, share it with the police.

When I have answers to the questions I have put to the Sergeant at Totton Police Station, I will post again.

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