CHARITIES in Darlington are to get a helping hand this year thanks to a new police initiative.

The new scheme, which is being rolled out by police in Darlington over the next few months, will see each of the town’s 23 Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) spending one shift every month working at a local charity or community group.

Their eight-hour shift could be spent working at a number of organisations in the town, including Age UK Darlington, homeless charity Firststop, eVOLution, Bikestop, and Darlington Association on Disability (DAD).

It is hoped the new scheme will encourage more engagement between PCSOs and their community, as well as increasing visibility in the town.

To help launch the initiative later this month, Neighbourhood Inspector Mick Button will also spend one of his shifts working at a charity.

“It is about having a presence in the community and encouraging more engagement with residents,” he said.

“There are all sorts of charities and community groups in Darlington that we could offer help to. It is something that has been done nationally for years and I just thought it would be a good thing to do in Darlington, especially in the current climate.

“It promotes community engagement and partnership working, and also gives people a chance to get to know their PCSOs.”

In another bid to help increase engagement between the police and the community, officers are also carrying out door knocks on houses across the borough offering advice on crime prevention, information on Neighbourhood Watch and letting people know when their next Police and Communities Together (Pact) meeting is.

Insp Button said: “There are 47,000 households across the borough and we are trying to talk to them all, even if we have arrested them 100 times.

“We have done about 3,000 so far, and the feedback has been very positive, people like knowing the information.

“It will maximise the contact we already have, and it also gives people a chance to get to know their local beat officer.”

For more information on Pact meetings visit