Coronavirus certainly wasn’t a topic of conversation.
But things changed rapidly. Within weeks, infections in the UK were rising and by the last week in March we were in lockdown.
This meant that Lisa’s role as PCSO changed radically. Normally, her role would involve attending community events, speaking at schools, holding beat surgeries and giving advice to residents. But the Covid 19 pandemic changed all that. However, it was still her job to patrol the beat, which included Barrow, Sileby, Seagrave, Burton on the Wolds, Walton On The Wolds, Wymeswold, Cotes, Hoton and Prestwold, along with PCSO Jade Martin.
So, how did lockdown change things for the PCSOs?
Barrow residents were, by and large, compliant with lockdown rules, says Lisa.
“Many of the problems we encountered were due to lack of understanding or confusion over what was allowed and what wasn't,” she said. “We did get reports about households getting together when that was not allowed and we had to remind, advise and encourage people about social distancing and speak to groups who had been congregating. Many residents were given words of advice and adhered to the advice given.”
They also received complaints about dog fouling in King George V Recreational Park and liaised with Charnwood Council over this. It’s an ongoing problem.
Because businesses were closed, the PCSOs also kept an eye on shop security and, most importantly, on vulnerable areas and vulnerable people.
Social media now plays a useful part in police communications, says Lisa.
“People can use the police website to report minor crimes and Facebook and Twitter can be useful for the public to keep up to date with policing, and to educate and inform.” The comments are monitored by digital media staff within the police service - it’s not up to the PCs to trawl through comments after a long shift!
Lisa loves her job, she says. Originally from Mansfield, she worked in hospitality for nine years, before following her dream to become a police officer. Sadly, she is leaving Barrow in October but for her it’s a step up the career ladder, as she will assume more responsibility becoming a PC.
At the moment, the team consists of Sergeant Chris Wharton, PC Stu Davis, PCSO Jade Martin, PCSO Lisa McNeill and PCSO Curtis Bill, who is replacing Lisa.
Curtis says he is proud to be a PCSO within Sileby, Barrow and the surrounding areas and feels that his previous experience of working within various local authorities will complement the team and force.
Want to form your own Neighbourhood Watch?
Charnwood Watch is a new improved scheme, similar to Neighbourhood Watch, which can be set up by new watch members. If you are not already a member, sign up to www.neighbourhoodlink.co.uk where you can send a message to say you wish to set up a new scheme, which you and your members can run through meetings, Whatsapp groups or emails. You will receive up-to-date police communications via Neighbourhood Link which can be circulated to keep your community up to date. You will need to be approved and once approved, you will then be provided with Charnwood Watch signs, which can be made visible on your chosen lampposts.