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All In A Day’s Work For A Community Safety Warden

Published on: 25 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2013

To get an insight into the work of one of Guildford’s community safety wardens, David Rose, spent an afternoon walking a part of Stoughton with Andy Coumbe.

Community safety warden Andy Coumbe loves being out and about on his patch that takes in Stoughton, Merrow and the Christchurch ward.

Community safety warden Andy Coumbe.

Community safety warden Andy Coumbe.

He is one of seven such wardens who work for Guildford Borough Council covering wards such as Ash, Westborough, Onslow, Stoke and the town centre.

Andy, 41, along with his colleagues, and their supervisor, are the eyes and ears of the patch each of them cover: keeping a look out for things like litter, graffiti, antisocial behaviour and working with residents, listening to their concerns, and in turn helping and empowering them to make their neighbourhood a safer place in which to live.

As and when he spots or is informed of an issue or a problem, he liaises with other departments within the borough council and partner agencies to get the matters resolved.

Last week Andy was alerted to items of litter, that also contained some illegal drugs paraphernalia, that came to light after a resident cut back a large hedge bordering a footpath leading to a footbridge over the railway line off Grange Road. The items had been hidden for some time. Immediately Andy made notes of the issue and put a call into the council’s cleaning department. It has a rapid response team. Andy revisited the footpath the next day to check that the litter and items had been removed, which they had been.

Andy takes note of litter discarded beside a footpath in Stoughton.

Andy takes note of litter discarded beside a footpath in Stoughton.

He explained that he’s noticed that there appears to be an on-going problem of litter being dropped along this footpath. Some of it, however, has ended up on land belonging to the railway, so the council’s clean-up team could not tackle that.

Andy has plans to speak to local shop owners, from where it’s possible the packaging of items that eventually ended up as litter were bought. The litter may have been dropped by young people, and Andy already pops into local schools to talk to pupils about respecting and caring for their neighbourhoods.

Further along on his round, Andy spotted a number of bin bags and other rubbish discarded to the side of a small convenience store. More notes were taken with Andy hopeful it will soon be cleared away. And with a bit of encouragement and good will in the right places, he hopes this particular issue will be resolved.

Some discarded refuse this time – it shouldn't be long before it is cleared away.

Some discarded refuse this time – it shouldn’t be long before it is cleared away.

Andy lives in Guildford and has a wealth of experience working within communities here. He was a police community support officer (PCSO) for two years covering Ash. That was between 2002-04, and he was one of the first intake of PCSOs into Surrey Police.

However, he made the move from a blue uniform to a red one, when, he became a community safety warden with Guildford Borough Council, with his patch then covering Stoughton and Onslow wards. After four years he transferred to work the town centre area ­– the type of work and day-to-day issues being quite different, he says.

Then, two years ago, with a shuffling of wardens and a new recruit, Andy moved back to the Stoughton area, but also with the responsibility of Merrow and Christchurch as well.

“I really like this area,” he says. I do my rounds on foot, or sometimes I cycle. It is important to be seen out and about.”

That afternoon he stopped to speak with two police officers who pulled up in a patrol car. Later he saw one of the area’s neighbourhood watch co-ordinators out walking his dogs. Another chat took place, with the passing of information about things in general going on.

Andy chats to Les Wood, a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator.

Andy chats to Les Wood, a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator.

Andy has close contact with residents’ associations and local groups. For example, he is involved with the Queen Elizabeth Park Residents’ Association and assists in its fairs and events.

He said: “They are planning a party later this summer to celebrate the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

“I also arrange network lunches within the community. It draws people along and it’s amazing how productive these can be with those attending coming up with good ideas and suggestions – while enjoying a bowl of soup!”

He also offers his services at Guildford College with supported learning. “Every fortnight I talk to students about personal safety,” he says. “I use a common sense approach. Sometimes, I also arrange for local police officers to come to the college with me, and they give advice too.”

Andy is about to embark on a project of community safety surveys of streets and roads within his area. This will be a long-term project and the local PCSOs will be helping him collect the data.

He explained: “Taking one street at a time, we will compile a wish list of things that need sorting out, along with the measures that can then be undertaken to make improvements. We will be looking for signals, signs and pointers to hot spots for things like antisocial behaviour, illegal drug use, litter, dog mess, broken street lamps and other damage.

“If we can fix some of the unwanted things we may find, we will be working towards cracking some of the problems that often occur.”

And you can’t argue with that.

Andy Coumbe can be contacted on 07901 513650.

He also emails out a newsletter of what he has been doing, along with other items of interest with a community theme. If you would like to be on his emailing list, email him to:

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Responses to All In A Day’s Work For A Community Safety Warden

  1. Caroline Reeves Reply

    April 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Our Community Safety Wardens make an essential contribution to safety in the borough, perhaps the Guildford Dragon could publish contact details for all our CSWs and the areas that they cover?

  2. David Rose Reply

    April 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    For our readers’ information: Guildford Borough Council’s website has some information about its wardens.
    It can be found by searching for ‘community safety wardens’ once you are on its site, or go to this link:
    I have to say that the page that will then be downloaded to see, although it shows a thumbnail photo of each warden and contact details, and a map of the borough, it is not that inspiring.
    Personally, I think the borough’s website needs to feature something similar to my article!
    When I have a bit of time, I will write up a page about the wardens. It could possibly be added to our Useful Information section.

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