POLICE chiefs have welcomed the findings of a residents survey which suggests people feel more secure when there is a safety officer in their area.
The Community Safety Survey Report 2004 reveals that 77% of people would feel safer with some type of warden in attendance.
A total of 78% of Vale Royal residents would welcome the introduction of safety officers in their area and 43% said they feel safer since the launch of pilot schemes.
Cheshire Constabulary's first community support officers (CSOs) took up their positions a year ago and there are two in Vale Royal - Claire Owen, who is based in Northwich, and Claire Hulse, who works in Tarporley.
Former borough council safety warden PCSO Hulse said: 'These results are proof that having a community officer of some sort, whether it be a police CSO or a council community safety warden, really does make a difference.
'I have experience in both roles and have helped tackle a range of problems. Anti-social behaviour is an area I've done lots of work in, helping secure Anti-social Behaviour Orders, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and identifying and helping youngsters before they travel too far on the wrong path.'
The pair work alongside Community Action Teams to identify and provide long-term solutions to problems. They also provide a reassuring presence on the streets and are involved in problem-solving partner groups.
PCSO Owen said: 'We act as a link between the community and the police. We dedicate all our time to community issues and don't get called on to deal with incidents as and when they occur.
'This means we don't get called away from dealing with the things that really have an effect on people's quality of life, like anti-social behaviour and nuisance youths.
'For example, if there's a problem with a certain street being targeted by under-age drinkers, we'll get out in the community and try and interact with the youngsters to try and
solve the problem. This could mean confiscating alcohol, liaising with licensed premises to make sure alcohol isn't being sold to under-age drinkers and talking to the youngsters and our partners to see if there's a specific issue that needs addressing, such as the lack of youth provision.'
The force's commitment to dealing with community issues at a community level seems to be a step in the right direction as far as Vale Royal residents are concerned, as 60% of people questioned in the survey said they were confident in the service provided.
PCSO Owen said: 'I'm delighted so many people have confidence in us, but it doesn't mean we're complacent. We're always looking at ways we can improve.'