ONE of a kind - that’s Balsall Common Police Shop which celebrated its official launch this week.
The station welcomed some 20 volunteers and key officers to a gathering on Wednesday to mark the project - the only one in the Midlands - which sees residents, mostly members of the local Neighbourhood Watch, man the police shop at the front of the station from 11am until 12 noon, six days a week helping busy bobbies.
The brainchild of retired teacher Cedric Lea, the shop, which had stood empty, was recently refurbished and during the past 18 months has provided an informative area for people to drop in with their concerns.
Cedric said: “I came to Balsall Common five years ago, saw the premises and was told it had been a police shop. I started a Neighbourhood Watch group and then there was a village plan. Lots of things came out of that like why wasn’t there a police presence in the village? It was mostly minor - rowdy behaviour, speeding cars and so a few of us got together and we had a meeting of Neighbourhood Watch volunteers and 20 of them agreed to start a rota manning the shop.
“It was one morning twice a month with always two on at the same time. Then the police said they wanted to improve the ambience so they had the windows cleaned and it was spruced up. Now it’s six days a week. It’s a useful addition to the village and I am thrilled with it.”
Sgt Liam Dalton is based at Balsall Common. He is delighted with the project. “When we are out on patrol the volunteers are there taking messages for us and handing out literature. Most are Neighbourhood Watch members so they are pretty clued up. It does give a good feeling in the community.”
The station has eight officers, two PCSOs and another shortly to arrive. The volunteers are an enormous help according to Inspector Nigel Sarling. “We’ve created a good point of contact and it is bringing the presence of the police back to the village.
“We are indebted to what they are doing. It’s tremendous, they care a lot about their community.”
Local groups can also book the room for meetings. Call in to the police shop on Station Road.