Two men have been working hard to reduce the fear of crime in a city parish. They found time in a hectic schedule to speak to reporter ROB GIBSON of MK NEWS. John Cowling and John Franklin share a common goal - they have been charged with the arduous task of making Shenley Church End a better place to live and work. As Police Community Support Officer and Parish Warden respectively, their work is funded by the parish council, although PCSO Cowling receives his duties from Thames Valley Police. These duties include confiscating alcohol and tobacco from under-age consumers, dispersing groups acting anti- socially and stopping cyclists from riding on the pavement. In addition he keeps an eye on parking, carries out road checks on vehicles, arranges the removal of abandoned vehicles and the seizure of others, such as Mini Motos, which may cause alarm or harassment to local residents. His work is centred on the Community Safety Partnership's core agenda to reduce crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. PCSO Cowling said: "Patrolling the streets is a great way to make residents aware of the true level of crime and anti-social behaviour in the Parish. This is often much less than residents think it is and engaging with them enables me to identify any potential problems and to deal with many of them before they escalate into criminal activity. A lot of what we do is about visual presence, so people see someone out there doing something about it. Especially with John here, we can act as a crime deterrent, for example to kids who are drinking on the streets. I can seize the alcohol off them and take their details." Parish Warden John Franklin represents the Parish Council and provides retailers, residents and children with vital links to local schools, youth groups, the Council and the probation service. A glance at a week in his diary reveals a busy and varied schedule. It begins with a meeting with the Parish Clerk, Chrissy Ashby, followed by a foot patrol of Shenley Church End. He then talks to a group of children at the local secondary school about the experience of being bullied and discusses some possible strategies to avoid being bullied. Next, he attends a Halloween event organised by the Parks Trust and tells ghost stories. Part of the job involves keeping a check on the environment and at a meeting with MK Council's wildlife officer, he has the chance to raise concerns about two ponds that need cleaning. The pair are currently overseeing the regeneration of the pond area, work carried out by community offenders from the probation service. John is also a walk leader on the Primary Health Care Trust's 'Walking for Health' programme. He understands the importance of meeting both the younger and older generations within the Parish and has already worked as a youth leader at the newly established Crownhill Youth Club. He frequently attends coffee mornings with older people living in sheltered accommodation. John said: "If I can't fix a problem, then the chances are that I know a man, or woman who can. The area is better now than it was 18 months ago and the level of anti-social behaviour has gone down. It's definitely tidier and there's less graffiti. We've been to other parish councils in Milton Keynes and it seems it makes a difference if you have got somebody doing our kind of job, actually on the ground. I love my job because it affords me the potential to meet with everyone living in, working in, or just visiting the Parish; and to work with them to make Shenley Church End an altogether better place to be."
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