A Wellingborough community action group, set up to tackle crime in a town park, has been short-listed for a national policing award.
Castle Fields Streetwatch Group members who clean up parks and the alleys in the Castle Fields and Victoria areas will travel to London to hear if they have won the Police Support Volunteer Team award.
The Lord Ferrers Awards recognise outstanding contributions to volunteering in policing and highlight the role volunteers play in supporting police.
Castle Fields Streetwatch Group co-ordinator Marion Turner-Hawes said: “We set up the group originally to cover Castle Fields park.
“Residents didn’t feel safe because of drug dealing and muggings so when we heard about the Street Watch programme we contacted the police to set up our group.
“We improved the park with high-visibilty patrols and then we wanted to expand out into the surrounding streets of the Victoria and Eastfield areas.
“Patrolling twice a week, we saw how much rubbish there was being dumped in the communal areas and especially the alleyways between the houses.”
Group members kept a record of ‘grot spots’ and informed Wellingborough Norse - Wellingborough Council’s street cleaning contractors - the locations of fly-tipping.
To improve the process the group decided to hold monthly litter picks which started in January 2019.
The group has been working alongside police and council, informing Wellingborough Norse who have enforcement powers and the police of dangerous finds
In the first eight months, the group have picked up 900 bin bags full of rubbish from alleyways and communal areas including a foot-long knife.
Marion said: “We have collected mountains of rubbish. The worst places are in the alleyways behind the houses - these areas have been used for drug dealing and people just chucked stuff away into the communal area.
“Before we do a litter pick in an alleyway we put a letter through the door to say we are doing it.
“Afterwards, we send another letter to ask people keep it tidy which often works.
“When we’re there some residents come out and offer us drinks and say thank you, others say ‘why are you cleaning up other people’s rubbish?’
“I just got fed up of seeing rubbish everywhere - I want the place to live to be a pleasant place to live.”
Marion added: “Cleaning up the alleyways has made a big difference - there’s nowhere for people to hide now after we clear away the rubbish, soil and undergrowth.
“I think we are winners even if we don’t actually win the prize - it’s all about recognition for our group and all their hard work.”
The Lord Ferrers Awards, previously known as the Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer Awards, were renamed in memory of Lord Ferrers, the former Home Office minister who created the awards in 1993.
The awards recognise exceptional volunteer dedication across ten individual and team categories and winners will be announced at Lancaster House on October 15.
Anyone businesses or community groups wishing to help with clean-ups can email Marion on email@example.com.