Cops open coffee shop in Leigh Park to get to the heart of the community

OPENING From left, PC Jo Wilson, PC Kerry Lewis and PCSO Samantha Heath at the official opening of Copsncoffee by local resident Linda Atkins. Picture: Allan Hutchings (1496-534)
OPENING From left, PC Jo Wilson, PC Kerry Lewis and PCSO Samantha Heath at the official opening of Copsncoffee by local resident Linda Atkins. Picture: Allan Hutchings (1496-534)
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POLICE are working in the heart of their community – from a coffee shop.

The Copsncoffee cafe opened yesterday in the Greywell precinct, Leigh Park, and was a hit, with dozens of people enjoying a brew and a sit-down chat with a police officer.

The cafe opened in an empty shop unit and will be open every fortnight.

However, it is hoped that it could become a more permanent base for police in Leigh Park.

Sergeant Garry Smith, who leads the Leigh Park Safer Neighbourhood Team alongside Sergeant Patrick Hooper, said he got the idea from a police cafe in Michigan, USA, that has been a success story.

‘We have a problem with engagement with the public and community,’ he said.

‘We are sitting in the police station and if someone wants to see us they have to get on the bus.

‘Here, people can come and see us, have a coffee, share concerns and get crime prevention advice. It’s a win-win for all.’

People are able to report crimes as officers have mobile data devices.

Residents can also get updates on ongoing investigations that may involve them.

Police used to have a visible presence in the centre of Leigh Park during the estate’s ‘Pride of Place’ scheme.

But this project was scrapped due to funding cuts.

The coffee shop was officially opened by Linda Atkins, from Leigh Park Women’s Institute.

The coffee was free yesterday.

Kenwood, in Havant, provided the police with a coffee machine, while Asda and Tesco chipped in with milk and coffee beans. Local Councillor Yvonne Weeks helped by donating a big tin of biscuits.

The coffee shop will be next open on January 28, then February 11 and 25, from 9am to 5pm. Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, Simon Hayes, is set to visit on February 25.

Lorraine Ennis, 53, of Bassett Walk, who came to report concerns over unsafe parking, said: ‘It’s an absolutely fantastic idea.’