News / 24th March 2022

Take 5 With Our Dedicated Street Beat Officer

As part of Linen Quarter’s Clean and Safe Week, we sat down with our dedicated Street Beat Officer Chris Wallace for a short Q&A session. Take 5 allows members to find out more about Chris’ daily work and the service he provides across the Linen Quarter, including problem solving and steps you can take to ensure you are less likely to be the victim of crime.

Take 5 | Q&A With Our Dedicated Street Beat Officer

1. Can you tell us about yourself and the service you provide in the Linen Quarter?

I have been a Police Officer for 16 years and all of my service has been in Belfast city centre. I love dogs and have a 5 year old English Pointer/Springer cross who is impossible to tire out! Streetbeat provide a dedicated policing service to LQ members, which aims to assist businesses, reduce crime and promote a safe community. My duties include; conducting proactive vehicle and foot patrols to deter and detect crime, providing crime prevention training to staff; engaging in long term problem solving and mediation, and working with partner agencies to address the needs of those living and working within the Linen Quarter.

2.What are the main challenges you are tackling in the Linen Quarter and what sort of results have you achieved?

Emerging from lockdown and the lasting impact of Covid presents brand new challenges for everyone, and Policing is no different. Those in society with limited means are generally impacted the most, as the cost of living increases. I work closely with partner agencies such as Belfast City Council, Extern and Welcome Organisation to ensure the vulnerable in our community have access to the services and support they need. At the same time I try to balance this against the needs and issues faced by the business community. Listening to the community it is apparent the main concern is drug use and the associated anti-social behaviour. Many of the individuals I deal with have addiction problems be that drugs or alcohol. As a Police Officer I am not best placed or trained to treat addiction, but invariably Police deal with the consequences of these public health challenges. An individual was causing considerable disruption to businesses on Great Victoria Street, and attracting further anti-social behaviour. Efforts were made with partner agencies to seek a solution but were ignored by the individual. Working closely with the businesses I was able to secure a conviction and subsequent Anti-Social Behaviour Order against this individual. The conditions of the ASBO restrict antisocial behaviour and exclude this individual from the area, giving Police further powers of arrest. I am aware that problems persist in Great Victoria Street, however, have greatly improved as one of the main protagonists is no longer there.

3.What steps can people and organisations take to keep themselves safe and to reduce crime?

Belfast is a safe city but there are always steps you can take to ensure you are less likely to be the victim of crime. Keep valuables out of sight, particularly within vehicles parked on the street, if they can see it, they can steal it. When leaving work ensure all windows and doors are locked and secured and test your alarm regularly. If you cycle to work ensure your bike is locked, even if stored in a secure area, and lock your bike when at home. Never disclose your personal or financial details online or on the phone. If an offer seems too good to be true, it is generally a scam. Always keep to well-lit busy streets even if it means a slightly longer walk. If any LQ members would like the reassurance of a personal safety alarm please get in touch.

4. Do you think the partnership between LQ BID and PSNI has supported wider problem solving?

I believe collaborative working between the public and private sector is crucial to preventing crime and creating a safer community. The link between LQ BID and PSNI provides a single point of contact for LQ members and more importantly continuity in relation to ongoing problems. A recent example of this comes to mind where a business had contacted Streetbeat in relation to a hotspot for drug use and anti-social behaviour. Streetbeat arranged for Crime prevention officers to attend, assess and make recommendations, in a timely manner. Streetbeat continued to patrol the area until these recommendations were implemented by the business, and the issues stopped overnight. Working closely with Belfast City Centre Neighbourhood team Streetbeat can share information to focus patrols in identified hotspot areas.

5. How do our Linen Quarter members get in touch with you?

Streetbeat can be contacted by; email or Telephone / text message on 07825 634384

If I am unable to answer please leave a message or text and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

In an emergency always ring 999