I would like to take the opportunity of this new column to address some of the most common issues that are raised when I am talking to residents in Caerphilly.
The first is parking. Irresponsible and illegal parking on the public highway is a frustration for many people, myself included.
Gwent Police are currently the only police force in Wales that still carries out parking enforcement and the local teams regularly patrol problem areas.
But resources are limited and the time spent tackling parking issues has to be balanced against the police’s other priorities.
I would prefer to see more officers available to respond to serious incidents of crime and spend more time engaging with communities and supporting victims, than issuing parking tickets.
This is why I am fully supportive of Gwent Police transferring enforcement powers to the local authorities.
In Caerphilly this will happen in April this year and I think it will have a direct benefit to the local community.
Not only will there now be a dedicated resource to tackle problem parking but the council, unlike the police, will be able to keep any monies raised.
This means that in the long term there will be more money available to spend on highways projects.
Another common complaint I receive is that people don’t see enough ‘bobbies on the beat’.
Officers and CSOs do still regularly patrol on foot, but the fact is that crime is changing and the way we need to tackle it is changing too.
This is highlighted by the fantastic work that the Gwent Police team based in Bedwas are doing in the Lansbury Park area.
Up until a year ago the relationship between the police and residents in this part of Caerphilly was very poor.
By dedicating an officer and community support officer to work full time with the community this is improving.
Just some of the initiatives Gwent Police have set up in the area include Mini Police at the local school, a rugby team that is taking young people off the streets in the evenings, and a new residents group.
Later this year there will be a festival, organised by the police and local residents together.
Not only are we breaking down barriers but we are empowering residents to stand up to the problems in their community.
They feel confident to report crimes that previously would have gone unrecorded.
For example, at the time of writing this column, police had just seized more than £30,000 of drugs from one property alone following intelligence provided by the local community.
This is community policing done well and the results are evident.
Finally, I have launched an e-news bulletin to keep residents up to date with my activities and those of my office. You can sign up in English http://eepurl.com/gcUkVj or Welsh http://eepurl.com/ge9oFL