'Plastic police' making a difference on Aylesbury estate

TOMMY, a Southcourt teenager is no longer bullied and attends school like any other boy - all thanks to his local Police Community Support Officer.

During her time on the Southcourt patch, PCSO Natalie Thrussell has been busy addressing the problems flagged up by local people.

Tommy is just one grateful recipient of her work and was particularly interested in the work that Natalie and her team do on a day-to-day basis. PCSO Thrussell had been taking her daily tour of her Southcourt patch when she found Tommy truanting from school. "She caught me skiving off school and took me to my mum. I did it because I was being bullied at school," he said. Tommy's mother later contacted the school and the bullying has since stopped, said the boy.

Crime has been reduced in the area since the introduction of PCSOs about two years ago, thanks to the help that has been given by the public to their local support officers.

PCSO Thrussell spends her time talking to people within the community, as they are the people most likely to pick up on problems and issues in the area - whether it be teenagers kicking a ball against someone's property, suspected drug dens or substance abuse.

Last week she held a monthly surgery in the Edinburgh Playing Fields - aimed at encouraging the general public to come forward and ask about crime prevention or report any misdemeanours in the area.

PCSO Thrussell explained: "It's thought to be a problem area, more than others - it's a low socio-economic area but it's a very mixed group. There's a lot of elderly people and young people and there's a large Muslim community, as well as four Christian churches, but usually people get on pretty well in Southcourt and a lot of people have grown up together; the mix here is quite a good one."

Being in the school holidays, last week's surgery attracted droves of school children who came to ask PCSO Thrussell the details of her job. "They ask me things like what would happen to them if they got caught with drugs and a lot of them are interested in being a PCSO or an officer."

She said that a lot of the time, people have a misconception about PCSOs: "They think we simply wander around and door knock all day but we deal with low level crime, for instance I will be here dealing with anti-social behaviour and gathering intelligence on people. Sometimes they call us the plastic police. It's our job to know everything about our area and all the people who are likely to cause trouble."

PCSO Thrussell said that operation Falcon has been very dependant on the work of PCSOs and their intelligence gathering operations. Over the last year, a large number of drug dens and dealings have been uncovered and stopped. "The general public don't see that side of us. They don't really see what good we are because we can't arrest people but we have led to people being arrested for various reasons," she said.

Working on the Southcourt estate has been a huge undertaking by PCSO Thrussell and a world apart from her former patch of Wendover, Aston Clinton, Weston Turville and other surrounding villages.

"The Wendover patch was a very different job as it is a much more rural patch," she added.

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