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On the buses for Wells cops

PUBLISHED: 15:11 10 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 07 July 2010

At first it was bobbies on the beat, then Wells police took to the seas by launching bobbies on a boat.

Now, in an effort to extend its reach still further, the team has commandeered public transport to forge a new kind of mobile police force… bobbies on a bus.

At first it was bobbies on the beat, then Wells police took to the seas by launching bobbies on a boat.

Now, in an effort to extend its reach still further, the team has commandeered public transport to forge a new kind of mobile police force… bobbies on a bus.

The Wells Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) has teamed up with bus company Norfolk Green to give officers free travel throughout the popular Coasthopper network.

The route covers many of the 14 widespread parishes in which the five-strong team has pledged to improve its rural presence.

SNT Sgt Andy Smith said the idea would give his officers the chance to meet fellow travellers and chat about local issues in “impromptu surgeries” on their way to foot patrol duties in outlying communities.

And at the same time, the “Coasthopper Copper” project could also provide an eco-friendly way of reducing the amount of money spent on fuel for patrol cars.

Sgt Smith said: “We are always looking for ways to make the team more visible and accessible and improve confidence in neighbourhood policing. This is just another way to engage with people and make the most of the time spent travelling between parishes.

“I would encourage anybody who sees a member of the team on the bus to seize the opportunity to sit down beside them and discuss any issues they may have.

“There is also the green incentive - we are travelling the same routes as the bus, so we might as well use the service that is in place.”

In August, the Wells SNT became the first coastal Norfolk police team to launch its own patrol boat and Sgt Smith said he was always looking to extend his team's varied transport network.

“Next we want a tank, and after that I want a helicopter,” he joked. “Flexibility is the key.”

The Coasthopper is the second fastest-growing bus route in the country, with this year's customer total set to exceed the 269,000 people who used the service in 2008.

Norfolk Green's commercial manager, Rob Bennett, said the Coasthopper Copper idea would bring mutual benefits.

“We don't have much trouble on these buses, but it acts as a reassurance to passengers to know a police officer could get on at any stop,” he said. “We are both seen as different parts of the community so this is a great way for us to help the police meet people and travel around their patch in a sustainable way.”

Norfolk Green has been nominated for Independent Operator of the Year at the UK Bus Awards on Thursday, with the Coasthopper also nominated for a Bus in the Countryside award.


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