Police looking to make Ipswich smile

UNDER the banner of their innovative SMILE campaign Ipswich police are determined the town will be seen in a positive light.COLIN ADWENT reports on a strategy laced with humour and focussed on keeping the town centre safe at night for everyone.

UNDER the banner of their innovative SMILE campaign Ipswich police are determined the town will be seen in a positive light.

COLIN ADWENT reports on a strategy laced with humour and focussed on keeping the town centre safe at night for everyone.

A NEW campaign is being launched today aimed at putting a smile on the faces of people in Ipswich.

Suffolk Constabulary has teamed up with the Evening Star to showcase the town as fun, friendly and primarily trouble-free.

The initiative is keen to portray Ipswich as a place where night-time revellers and daytime shoppers can be confident of having a good time in safe surroundings.

Police are particularly determined to send out a message that evenings in the town centre will never be the preserve of a small minority of lager-swilling yobs.

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Throughout the summer a raft of initiatives are being implemented to highlight the feelgood factor under the banner of the SMILE (Safety Makes Ipswich Life Enjoyable) campaign.

Inspector Becky Kidd-Stanton, of Ipswich police said: “SMILE is aimed at promoting Ipswich as a vibrant, safe enjoyable place for a night out.

“We are working with our partner agencies and want to tell the people about the cross-section of organisations and members of the public involved in keeping them safe while they are enjoying there night out in the town.”

The tactics are an extension of previous humorous campaigns, albeit with serious messages.

A few years ago Ipswich police gained national prominence with its Lock 'em Inn Christmas strategy, which promoted the police station's cells, toilets, and culinary delights as if it were a downmarket hotel.

That message was based on the premise that the police station was one place you did not want end up during a night out.

Inspector Kidd-Stanton said: “Previous campaigns such the Lock 'em Inn have focussed on zero tolerance and anti-social behaviour, and they have been very successful.

“However, we recognise we have moved on from that stage and it is time to promote the positive aspects of Ipswich town centre - of which there are many - and encourage people to enjoy their night out.

“Therefore, the focus is much more about making people smile, while getting some serious safety messages across at the same time.

“Over the coming months we will be looking to introduce key players in the night-time economy, including the newly-formed LASER (Liaison and Sexual Exploitation Reduction) team.

“This team also includes a police community support officer funded by Suffolk Constabulary and Ipswich Borough Council, to deal with licensing issues.”

Over the years police have worked hard to establish a rapport with revellers and have forged close links with door staff, council workers, licensees, counsellors, and other emergency services.

Officers have also embarked on a cohesive street-drinking initiative, which includes combating daytime issues as well, in addition to using technology to detect and prevent drug use in the pubs and clubs.

Although SMILE aims to make its point through humour, it also has an underlying message that troublemakers will be dealt with firmly

Insp Kidd-Stanton said: “Our strategy is very much a light and shade approach. Alongside SMILE we are looking to launch a community event to promote the aims of the campaign.

“SMILE is all about perception and people feeling safe.

“Having focussed in the past on people who have caused problems, it's easy to think that's the reality of a Friday and Saturday night, but these people are in the minority.”

Nigel Pickover, editor of The Evening Star, said the paper was pleased give its support to the SMILE campaign.

He said: “I wholeheartedly back this initiative. It is important that people of all ages are confident enough to come into Ipswich at night knowing they will be able to have an enjoyable evening in a safe environment.”

Suffolk's assistant Chief Constable Gary Kitching, echoed those sentiments, but also gave a few words of advice to revellers.

He said: "Suffolk Police is delighted to be working in partnership with the Evening Star for this worthwhile campaign.

“Ipswich is a safe place - and a great place for people to go out and enjoy themselves. However, it is important that we all work together to ensure that we stay safe by continuing to target misuse of alcohol and drugs while reducing violence and anti-social behaviour.

“Our messages are clear: come to Ipswich and have fun - but don't overdo it, stick with your friends, get home safely and, of course, SMILE."

Name: Karl Gough

Age: 36

Job: Door supervisor for Stage Security Services

Length of time in job: Six years

Best thing about the job: Getting out at the weekend and meeting people, but earning �70 instead of spending it

Worst thing about the job: Women with wandering hands

Most memorable moment: Escorting a couple outside who had been caught having sex in the gents' loo only to find that their respective partners were waiting outside for them.

Karl's message: “The sins we do, two by two, we pay for one by one” - Granny Gough.

Name: Jason Gillingham

Age: 38

Job: Assistant General Manager for East of England Ambulance NHS Trust

Length of time in job: 17 years as a Paramedic

Best thing about the job: Caring for people

Worst thing about the job: Abuse of ambulance staff both verbal and physical

Most memorable moment: Too many to mention and most are unprintable. But I once treat a patient dressed as Mr Blobby who had cyanide poisoning.

Jason's message: Drink in moderation, and look after yourself and your friends then you're sure to SMILE.

Name: Rebecca (Becky) Kidd-Stanton

Age: 37

Job: Suffolk Constabulary's operations inspector for Ipswich

Length of time in job: 18 years with the police.

Best thing about the job: Variety. There are always new challenges, new people to work with and new people to help.

Worst thing about the job: Spending too much time at work and not enough with my family.

Most memorable moment: As a newly promoted sergeant, I led my team to do a search warrant at a flat. After breaking the door down with very heavy battering ram-type instrument called an “enforcer”, my colleague dropped the enforcer on my foot and fractured my toe. I will always remember hopping around in agony trying to explain the search warrant process to the occupant.

Becky's message: Remember that your behaviour is affected by alcohol consumption. Make sure that you have a night to remember for all the right reasons, not because of a visit to hospital or an appearance at court.

Finally, never drop an enforcer on your sergeant's toe!”

Name: Ian Rafferty

Age: 44

Job: Police constable on Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team

Length of Time in job: 18 years with the police

Best thing about the job: Flexible working patterns and working in a small, but highly motivated team.

Worst thing about the job: The waiting. Waiting at crime scenes, waiting to book prisoners in and watching vulnerable prisoners in custody

Most memorable moment: I arrested a drunken man in a dress, high heels and full make-up on Christmas Day around five years ago. He stood before the custody sergeant and produced a dead rat which he tried to eat head first. He explained he was trying to get rid of evidence as he had been planning to shove the rat through somebody's letter box.

Ian's message: I'm paid to protect you - not make up cool slogans.

Name: Liz Beaton

Age : 49

Role: Co-ordinator for the town pastors

Length of time in current role: Three years

Best thing about the role: Helping to make a difference in the town and meeting people from all walks of life

Worst thing about the role: Times when there is little we can do to help

Most memorable moment: Holding someone up for 25 minutes while they tried very hard to punch their home phone number into their mobile - they wouldn't let us do it - only to eventually find out there was no-one at home because, in their words, “Course there isn't - I'm here aren't I?”

Liz's message: Come and say hello to a town pastor - we love to chat with you. Help us to look after you by looking after each other.

Name: Kevin Smith

Age: 40

Job title: Police community support officer with Ipswich's Laser team

Length of time in job: A total of nine years with the police.

Best thing about the job: Being able to be proactive, not being tied to a desk and making Ipswich a better place.

Worst thing about the job: Having to wear a hat in the hot weather.

Most memorable moment: While chasing a wanted person, I fell off my bike, hurt my knees, but still managed to stop them! The incident was caught on Ipswich Borough Council's CCTV and after 3 years they still don't let me forget.

Kevin's message: If you see me when you are out at night please come and say hello. A smile always makes the night go quicker.