Western Rural Neighbourhood Policing Unit is responsible for a large geographical area comprising Malpas, Broxton, Tattenhall, Eccleston, Farndon, Frodsham, Helsby, Kingsley, Cuddington, Mickle Trafford, Waverton, Christleton and Tarvin.
Some 20 police officers, five sergeants, three police stations (Frodsham, Dragon Hall and Mickle Trafford) and one neighbourhood inspector police a primarily residential and rural space.
Chronicle reporter Frances Barrett joined PC Dave Walton of the Western Rural Neighbourhood Policing Unit on a day shift for an insight into neighbourhood policing, and to see if the notion of the ‘bobby on the beat’ still exists today.
PC Walton, 35, has 11 years with Cheshire Constabulary under his belt, having joined the police ‘to make a difference’.
“There’s a lot of diversity in terms of the people we deal with, from travellers to farmers,” he says.
The former Tarporley High School student explains the most common kind of incident they deal with is traffic-related, such as animals and obstructions on the road to speeding or driving under the influence offences.
“We probably receive more reports than Northwich and Winsford but not as many crime-related.”
Western Rural NPU is one of about 3,600 neighbourhood policing units across the country, the idea behind such a model being to make the police more visible and to aid interaction between the police and the public.
“A lot of policing is simply about being seen and making people feel comfortable,” PC Walton says.
“We rely on the community to tell us what’s going on because we can’t be everywhere at once. There’s a lot to be said for local knowledge - knowing who lives where and where people hang out.
“Being a jack of all trades is a new modern type of policing. We are the first port of call for people. This new type of community policing is good because we deal with issues as they build up, then we know what the background is when we have to deal with them.”
During the shift, we respond to a report of concern for a female’s safety, a report of a stolen scooter, a report of a quad bike causing anti-social behaviour, and assisted with the transportation of a male who had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and had refused voluntary admission.
PC Walton highlighted the importance of PCSOs who can follow up non-emergency reports by ‘stopping in and checking up on vulnerable people a couple of times a week’.
So what does he make of the old bobby on the beat idea?
“Up to a point, the bobby on the beat still exists but there’s also a lot more to it these days. We’re also social workers of sorts.
“I think the job’s constantly changing and it’s unrecognisable from when I started.”
The unit is active on social media, with several officers tweeting about reports they’ve responded to, something which PC Walton says is ‘becoming more and more a part of what we do’.
To keep up to date with news from the Western Rural on Twitter, follow @WesternRuralNPU.
To report a non-emergency, call 101 or 999 in an emergency.