'Legal highs' in new police chief's sights
THE minute Sean Robinson came to Barrow three years ago, as head of south Cumbria’s top criminal investigation unit, he said he felt an affinity for the area.
Growing up in a north east shipbuilding community, he says it was like coming home. There is the same proud community spirit and the positive “can do” attitude.
Superintendent Robinson says he is taking over the reins of an area with an already low crime rate, but aims to slash it even further, with the public’s help.
He wants to make sure he and his officers are accessible and people feel confident talking to them about any problems they may have. The area commander also intends to crack down on so-called “legal highs” – branding those who sell them “irresponsible.”
He says a mixture of enforcement and education over the next six months will hopefully see the number of clubbers and youngsters taking the drugs slashed.
Supt Robinson said: “Our job is to make people safer, particularly our young. We really need to make sure they are getting the correct information on these ‘legal highs,’ in particular mephedrone.
“I don’t want to lose any young people in this area because they took something like this. In the coming months we will be getting the right information out there to young people.
“We also want to make sure the people who are selling them are acting more responsibly.
“I can’t believe how irresponsible some of these people are, when they are well aware of the dangers but still insist on selling them to children. I want them to talk to us so we can give advice.
“I also want parents and anyone else concerned about ‘legal highs’ to talk to us. We will be able to give general advice and or point them in the right direction to get further help.
“I do think it’s right that mephedrone was made illegal and I know there are other substances out there on the streets that are just as dangerous. We will continue with our enforcement, but also push home our education message in schools.
“I don’t want one of our young people losing their life because of a ‘legal high’, because it really is a total waste of life that can be prevented.”
The Evening Mail revealed in March how local children as young as 11 were experimenting with so-called “Mcat” and how hospital visits for clubbers taking mephedrone were on the up.
Police and drugs counsellors began going into South Cumbrian schools in March to warn youngsters of the dangers.
From April 16, anyone found in possession of mephedrone faces a criminal conviction and up to five years in prison.
If caught dealing, it could be a sentence of up to 14 years behind bars.
The 42-year-old dad-of five cut his teeth in the Royal Navy before joining Cumbria’s police force as a bobby in 1990, working in the west and north of the county.
He had a rapid rise through the ranks, with west Cumbria CID, the drugs squad, then as a rural detective, before being put in charge of the force’s fraud squad. The superintendent has also been involved in some major murder investigations in the north of the county before becoming the boss of Barrow CID in 2007, and then returning to being head of the force’s professional standards department.
Speaking about his new role he said: “I really enjoyed my time working in South Cumbria, and feel both delighted and proud to be able to come back.
“It is a really lovely place to live. As well as being such a picturesque part of the country, crime rates continue to fall, which is proof that it really is one of the safest places in the UK.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m being corny, but I am genuinely happy to be back as area commander.
“There is so much energy within the community and a real positive ‘can do’ attitude from the communities who live here, the officers I work with to all our partners.
“I want to be part of all that, not only to improve the quality of life but also the quality of services on offer to support our communities in everyday living.
“The crime rates are so low locally, but with help we can bring them down even further. For example, there were 133 burglaries last year. That equates to about 10 a month.
“Fifty per cent of those could have been prevented, if homes had been secure.
“We need to build on this and with the help of communities we can bring this figure down by half, if not more.
“One thing I want people to do is help themselves.
“I want to improve public confidence and I want them to have faith in what we are doing in their communities. I took over from Paul Kennedy and I am lucky to be taking the reins of a police area that already performs at a high level and is highly professional. I want to build on that success.
Supt Robinson said he attended the Love Barrow awards at the Abbey House Hotel in Barrow on March 12 and was overwhelmed by what he saw.
He said: “The energy of the people nominated was just inspirational. I was really touched by the stories I heard. They were all such positive role models. That’s what I love about Barrow and the surrounding areas. I have worked all over the county but here is second to none.
“I grew up in the north east, an area also famed for shipbuilding and it is very similar here. The people here have such a pride a very ‘can do’ a real ‘role your sleeves up’ community.
“Yes, there is a lot of deprivation and underprivileged areas, but with that comes a close-knit community and I want to work with that.
“One thing I do want is for people to come and talk to us, to me.
“I want to be accessible to the people of south Cumbria as do my officers.
“We are already holding Safer, Stronger meetings in all areas and this is a chance for people to come along and talk to us, tell us their problems and for us to help. This is a chance to meet you local policing team and tell us if someone is dealing drugs where you live or there is anti-social behaviour. We want to know what is happening because we want to be able to help.
“I am happy for folk to get in touch. I want to try to be as accessible as I can and listen. I’m keen to get my sleeves rolled up and get cracking.
“I have been a police officer for nearly 20 years. I have a lot of experience of front line policing and am looking forward to using that experience to improve life in our communities.
“I have five kids ranging from three to 20 and I am very focused on spending quality time with them. I understand family and I know what fears we have for our children.
“I’m dead chuffed to be doing this job and I hope with the help of our communities and out partners we can improve our towns and villages and improve on what is already a wonderful place to live.”
First published at 13:15, Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk