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    SAFETY FIRST: From left, community representatives David Eltringham and Mark Radford, Senior Sergeant Eddie Malpas, State Emergency Service’s Nola Smith, Acting Senior Sergeant Shane Allgood, The Weekly Advertiser’s Jessica Grimble, Inspector Matt Haughton and secretary Olivia Hill at the Horsham Community and Police Consultative Committee’s December meeting. A number of members were absent and opportunities exist for additional members to join the group in 2024. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Horsham-based community group the ‘eyes and ears’ across the city

A Horsham-based community group is helping police maintain a ‘back-to-basics’ focus on community safety. 

Membership of the long-running Horsham Community and Police Consultative Committee, HCPCC, as it is now known, includes representatives of emergency services and community safety organisations, licensed premises, government, non-profit and community organisations and groups, residents and the media. 

It brings community and police together every two months to identify and discuss issues and find solutions to a range of public safety issues and concerns. 

Its previous work resulted in a range of safety measures across the regional city – including the introduction and increased presence of CCTV and other safety measures, road safety awareness, publicly available Automated External Defibrillators, AEDS, and mobility works. 

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Horsham Police Station Commander, Senior Sergeant Eddie Malpas said police often received additional intelligence and information through the group, which had led to offenders being held accountable. 

He said the group’s work greatly assisted the police’s ‘Neighbourhood Policing Framework’ – a ‘back-to-basics’ approach, introduced in 2002, that focused on listening to the community, including through community surveys; understanding and acting on community safety concerns; working in partnership with community and partner organisations to address local safety concerns; and communicating the outcomes and action taken. 

“A key part of the framework is for police to form local safety committees with members of their community,” Senior Sergeant Malpas said.

“We were fortunate in Horsham as the HCPCC was somewhat ahead of its time, having been in operation for many years.

“I often speak about our back-to-basics approach as an important cycle that involves listening to the community, understanding the problem, determining the most appropriate response, targeting the response and then closing the loop. 

“Closing the loop is key as it is a way of validating the efforts of those across the community who have worked with police to solve problems, while also recognising the hard work of our police members on the front line.” 

Senior Sergeant Malpas said HCPCC members played an important role – from providing information and reporting community concerns, to demonstrating support for a determined response. 

“Neighbourhood policing is about finding a balance between reactive and proactive approaches to community safety – the key ingredient being engagement with the community,” he said. 

“The HCPCC representatives are the eyes and ears from across Horsham, and therefore the involvement is absolutely vital to our broader community safety objectives.” 

Former chairman, David Eltringham, became involved with a former iteration of the group after moving to Horsham in 1995. 

Then Horsham Rural City Council technical services manager, Mr Eltringham said the council met with traders and other representatives to address community safety concerns – at the time, the most prevalent being public drunkenness. 

He said locations of taxi ranks and the introduction of CCTV were among early highlights of his involvement – along with an innovative design for foothpaths to ensure people using mobility scooters could navigate corners with ease still used to this day. 

“A lot of people would just accept it as it is in Horsham, but if you go to other cities, they haven’t done that,” he said. 

Current chairman Mark Radford also became involved during his service as a Horsham Rural City councillor – staying on to assume the position of secretary and later chairman after Mr Eltringham stepped down from the role. 

“Councillors were no longer required to attend, but I saw value in the group and I stuck with them,” Mr Radford said. 

“You always learn something.” 

Senior Sergeant Malpas said he was hopeful additional community representatives would join the HCPCC this year. 

“There are many benefits for increasing HCPCC membership as everyone will bring different views, experiences and knowledge to the group. The broader the membership, the greater opportunity we have to tackle community safety concerns,” he said. 

Senior Sergeant Malpas said anyone interested in becoming a member – particularly those who could advocate on behalf of other community, business or sporting groups – could contact him or Inspector Matt Haughton at the police station on 5382 9200.

• Jessica Grimble, former editorial director of The Weekly Advertiser, attended the meetings on invitation as a media representative. 

The entire January 17, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!