At the end of last year we saw one Newport community hit headlines for crimes such as drug misuse, anti-social behaviour and prostitution. Pill was being portrayed in a negative light with some local residents having little confidence in the police and partners working locally.
Together with our partners we made changing this perception our mission: by working around the clock to ensure the quality of life for those who live, work or visit Pill improved, with a noticeable difference.
The aim was to make local residents feel safe and reassured, we wanted the community to know we were out there listening to their needs and taking action against those committing such crimes.
Back in January this year, a 'confidence' survey was distributed asking Pill residents questions such as: were they satisfied with the service provided by the police and their partners and how confident were they that reports of crime were dealt with effectively?
It was clear from the results of the first survey confidence was low and a strong focus on key issues was required.
By working with our partners, we planned holistic enforcement alongside intense community engagement to ensure we were tackling issues of concern, listening to and working with the local community and their representatives.
Operation Gravitas was set up to proactively combat on-street drug dealing with officers placed on dedicated roles to target those who actively profit from other people's misery.
Intelligence was gathered with assistance from the local community enabling officers to effectively target and deal with the concerns being raised.
The operations have resulted in a significant number of arrests, drugs and property of high value being recovered. Officers worked tirelessly to ensure these turned into charges and that justifiable sentences were handed down by the courts.
Operation Jewels, the largest drug operation in our history also saw many local offenders put behind bars for significant periods.
It didn't just stop at drugs, multi-agency clean-up operations aimed at improving the quality of life in Pill were also actioned including Operation Absorb and Operation Pathway, which included the development of diversionary pathway for sex workers operating in the area.
The partnership also obtained a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which was introduced in July this year which gives our officers more powers to tackle behaviours that concern local residents.
The PSPO and targeted action aims to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour such as street drinking, intimidating gangs, drug misuse, prostitution, violence and criminal damage.
These weren't just one offs either, the operations were held repeatedly across Pill to put a stop to criminal activity, longer term and each specific day has concentrated on a particular issue, e.g. licensing, fire regulations in houses of multiple occupancy, street cleanliness, crime prevention and continued enforcement of the PSPO.
Determination and working with our partners has been at forefront and already we have achieved overwhelming support and fantastic results.
This is an on-going process but one we hope shows the Pill community that we are committed to tackling and working towards a brighter future, together.
A follow up survey carried out in October provided clear evidence of the achievements of everyone involved...
Since January, the number of those who said they were confident in policing has increased alongside an appreciation of the service provided.
Following this the number of those who believe our service has got better over recent months has almost tripled! Less people have revealed they feel unsafe walking alone after dark in Pill, with some even stating anti-social behaviour has become less of a problem compared to last year.
Within the survey residents got the chance to include extra notes with comments being made such as:
'Any issues have been responded to very quickly.'
'My own dealing with the police has been fairly positive, and local officers have the knowledge of the area and local offenders.'
'Gwent Police has done a fantastic job in making our streets safer and getting drug dealers off our streets.'
Throughout the hard work, officers worked closely with the force's Corporate Communications Department to ensure the proactive results were recognised.
We've seen the headlines change from negative into positive and our officers have heard first-hand the supportive feedback out on the streets they police.
The comments across our social media pages have been overwhelmingly positive:
"It is fantastic and reassuring to see the Gwent Police taking such positive action in an area that is so clearly in need of it! - Well done and keep it!"
"Hooray and big well-done Gwent Police keeping our streets and children safe."
"Well done Gwent Police!!! It all has to stop, it's happening in broad daylight so blatant!!! Keep up the good work!"
"Great job all and we are seeing the difference already."
"Once again Gwent Police do a great job. Well done officers and thank you all."
"Keep up the good work; it's great to see things happening."
"Keep drugs off our streets! Top job!"
We are listening and responding in a way which we believe provides a long-term sustainable approach. We understand the challenges that the community faces, however we are confident that with the support of local residents and our partners, together we can make a real difference.
Local East LPA Commander Matthew Williams said: 'Pill is one of our most challenging wards in Gwent. For me this simply couldn't just be placed in the box of potentially too difficult to control or manage. I was not in any way going to stick a plaster over the problem; there was a need to act in partnership to deal with a range of significant and complex challenges. I wanted us to be proactive and to change the perception of Pill, which I'm sure you've heard or seen in the press. Collectively, with our partners we wanted to improve the quality of life for those in Pill and ensure the local community had confidence in us to not only listen to their needs but provide them with reassurance and results. We have had great support from the community, colleagues across the force, the Police and Crime Commissioner and from a number of key partners. We have worked with the community, not 'done to' the community, which has had a significant and positive impact. The desire from everyone to deliver a high standard of service came shining through and the results from the survey only evidence this. It hasn't gone unnoticed and I thank everyone for their efforts. I know together we can continue this good work and ensure the future remains a bright one!'
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council and Chair of One Newport, said: "All members of the Public Services Board recognised the issues that were being faced in Pill and made a considerable commitment to tackle the causes. I am extremely pleased to see that one year on from the launch of our action plan, real progress has been made and most importantly, the feedback from local people is that things are improving. A major element was the implementation of a public space protection order. This provided support for the police to address prevalent forms of anti-social behaviour including street drinking, intimidating behaviour and gangs, which rated high as areas of concern, but just as key have been the efforts of all partners to get local residents and businesses engaged and to put them right at the heart of this journey. From working with community leaders, engagement with young people and carrying out community clear-ups, people have come together for the benefit of Pill. The progress made is very encouraging, but there is certainly much more to be done. The PSB will continue to work with local people to identify the issues most important to them, empower them to play an active part in their community, and use the resources of all the partners to the best possible effect."
We'd like to encourage our communities to continue to work with us to reduce crime by calling us in confidence on 101, 999 in an emergency or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.