Milton Keynes

Meet the people who are helping to keep CMK safe and clean – the MyMiltonKeynes Ambassadors

Meet the people who are helping to keep CMK safe and clean – the MyMiltonKeynes Ambassadors

At a recent Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) event, Jason Hogg, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, made the comment: “Policing is too important to be left to the police alone. We need to maximise the eyes and ears in the local community to tackle crime.”

The ‘eyes and ears’ of Central Milton Keynes derives from a cohort of individuals who have quickly become recognisable within the city centre – the MyMiltonKeynes Ambassadors.

Distinctive in their red MyMiltonKeynes tops, the three ambassadors are directly employed by the Business Improvement District (BID) and act as a conduit between MyMiltonKeynes and visitors, businesses, and employees within the BID area.

Clocking up over 4,000 hours of patrol each year, the Ambassador team have become familiar figures within the city.

Working closely with Thames Valley Police, including the two police officers who are dedicated to the BID area, the Ambassadors are certainly not substituting for police work, but their ability to report anything of concern, including health and safety related problems, anti-social behaviour and issues surrounding homelessness, has proved a vital component to keeping the city safe – one of the five strategic aims of the BID.

“Our role varies greatly, and no two days are the same,” comments George Kufa, who leads the BID Ambassador team. From welcoming visitors to the city and supporting way finding: “we are regularly asked for help finding people’s cars and have become recognisable to some of the elderly people who frequent the shopping centre – they like to see a familiar face,” through to reporting concerns around broken streetlights and drug paraphernalia and sourcing the best areas to install new monitoring and safety equipment.

A recent achievement was the installation of new CCTV cameras. Identifying crime and anti-social behaviour hot spots, the Ambassadors carried out a comprehensive audit, cross referencing with a Thames Valley Police crime heat map, to pinpoint the best locations for the cameras to guarantee maximum impact.

“No stone is left unturned within Central Milton Keynes,” George continues, “we are representing all five strategic themes of the BID – Safe, Sparkling, Amazing, Intelligent and Mobile – and while safety and cleanliness is of course vital, we also celebrate the successes of business within CMK and support the fantastic events which are put on.”

While clocking up steps making circuits of the BID area, the Ambassadors have forged strong links with city charities and organisations, so they know exactly who to turn to when challenges arise. Identifying so called, ‘grot spots’ of the city is also high on each Ambassador’s radar: “As a city it’s inevitable that we will see anti-social behaviour, but the fact that we are ‘on the ground’ means that we can act quickly and, if we can’t rectify the situation ourselves, contact the relevant organisation or charity to step in.”

Homelessness is of course an ongoing challenge within the city and the Ambassadors are in regular communication with homeless charities to help get people off the streets. But, as George explains, it

isn’t just a case of reporting the issue and bringing the relevant organisation in to manage the situation: “Our roles are diverse and, consequently, we have the time to engage with people and we spend time listening to homeless people. In some cases, we have managed to repatriate them back to their home countries or reconnect them to family.”

While proudly lauded as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the city by MyMiltonKeynes CEO, Melanie Beck MBE, the Ambassadors do not derive from a policing background, in fact George worked as a journalist for many years in Africa. However, his master’s degree and training in Youth & Community has certainly held him in good stead for his Ambassador role.

For the two full time, and one part time Ambassador, stepping into the role meant embarking upon an intensive induction process first, as George explains: “We were taught how to administer first aid and given training on diversity and inclusion to motivate positive, non-biased attitudes within the city.”

During the same MKBLP dinner, Mr Hogg conceded that recruitment and retention within Thames Valley Police is tough but, as the ‘eyes and ears of the city,’ the Ambassadors are integral to keeping the BID area clean and making the thousands of people who work and visit CMK on a daily basis feel safe.

For further information about MyMiltonKeynes please visit www.mymiltonkeynes.co.uk and keep up to date with all of the latest information from your Business Improvement District by following @MyMiltonKeynes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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