New recruits hope to make short work of criminals in Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: CRIME FIGHTERS: Chief Constable Mike Barton shields his gnomies from the rain Picture: KEITH TAYLOR CRIME FIGHTERS: Chief Constable Mike Barton shields his gnomies from the rain Picture: KEITH TAYLOR

IT'S a little gnome fact that those little men at the bottom of many a garden were once thought to bring good luck and would often keep watch over livestock and crops.

So to protect the residents of Darlington and make short work of determined criminals, Durham Police has recruited a section of pint-sized crime fighters - with a little help from the Gnome Office.

The ten characters, complete with official police uniform and helmet, are swapping their usual 'gnome sweet gnomes' for the streets of Darlington to promote safety messages and offer crime prevention advice.

Every week, a new recruit will be deployed to a different business around the town to help police fish for clues and offer advice on how to keep property, including bikes and garden equipment, safe during the light nights.

Eagle-eyed residents will also be encouraged to spot the gnomes, with those who manage to find all ten entered into a prize draw.

Chief Constable Mike Barton said he thought the gnomes were a brilliant idea, and hoped people would act on their advice.

Although the introduction of the gnomes is light-hearted and a bit of a gimmick it also has a real purpose for us, he said.

These gnomes are going to be placed across Darlington with serious messages and it would be great for people to go out and find them.

This is all part of our wider objective to make County Durham and Darlington one of the safest places in the country to live and work.

He said as the majority of thefts from cars were from unlocked vehicles, the gnomes would also be encouraging people to secure their property and remove all valuables from view.

Who knows, maybe if your car is insecure, one of our garden gnomes will be on your driver's seat, he said.

The initiative is run in conjunction with the town's business improvement district and the gnomes created by Darlington business, Dekra Crete, free of charge.

They were painstakingly painted by the force's partnership liaison officer, Annette Metcalfe, who is based in the Safer Neighbourhoods Unit in Gladstone Street, Darlington,

It is something a bit different and, hopefully, it will get people thinking, she said.

The new officers will be introduced to residents every week on the Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team Facebook page.

For more information on gnome-spotting call the Safer Neighbourhood Team on 01325-346832.

Little gnome facts:

  • Garden gnomes were first introduced in to the UK in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, who brought 21 terracotta figures back from Germany and placed them in the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire.
  • Lampy, the only survivor of the group, is the oldest garden gnome in England and is estimated to be worth £2m.
  • Until 2013, gnomes were banned from the Chelsea Flower Show, but exhibitors would often try and smuggle them in by hiding them in foliage.
  • The Garden Gnome Liberation Front was set up to kidnap gnomes and free them into the wild, as they believed they were being oppressed in gardens around the world. In 1997 their ringleader was given a suspended sentence and fined for the theft of 150 gnomes.
  • Ann Atkin currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of gnomes and pixies - 2,042 of them live in her four-acre Gnome Reserve in West Putford, Devon.

Comments (9)

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9:31pm Mon 9 Jun 14

stevegg says...

Thats the best Durham police can hope for recruitment wise due to them being in dire financial straights, partly due to 25% cuts, which has seen the number of police officers reduced from 1700 in 2006 to around 1100 today with more police officer posts still to go to balance the books! Its a good time to be a criminal!
Thats the best Durham police can hope for recruitment wise due to them being in dire financial straights, partly due to 25% cuts, which has seen the number of police officers reduced from 1700 in 2006 to around 1100 today with more police officer posts still to go to balance the books! Its a good time to be a criminal! stevegg
  • Score: 9

10:30pm Mon 9 Jun 14

laughingboy51 says...

I got mine from British Gnome Stores
I got mine from British Gnome Stores laughingboy51
  • Score: 4

11:29pm Mon 9 Jun 14

laughingboy51 says...

stevegg wrote:
Thats the best Durham police can hope for recruitment wise due to them being in dire financial straights, partly due to 25% cuts, which has seen the number of police officers reduced from 1700 in 2006 to around 1100 today with more police officer posts still to go to balance the books! Its a good time to be a criminal!
Thanks for the tip stevegg,,,,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,shame Darlo Market was not much cop today for buying swag bag and crow bar............
[quote][p][bold]stevegg[/bold] wrote: Thats the best Durham police can hope for recruitment wise due to them being in dire financial straights, partly due to 25% cuts, which has seen the number of police officers reduced from 1700 in 2006 to around 1100 today with more police officer posts still to go to balance the books! Its a good time to be a criminal![/p][/quote]Thanks for the tip stevegg,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,shame Darlo Market was not much cop today for buying swag bag and crow bar............ laughingboy51
  • Score: 0

6:12am Tue 10 Jun 14

darloboss says...

so will we see one in springfield park just to make sure its protected from the invasion of travellers ?
so will we see one in springfield park just to make sure its protected from the invasion of travellers ? darloboss
  • Score: 11

11:48am Tue 10 Jun 14

D. Hop says...

^^^ Yes, and yet another traveller based article with comments blocked!!! The Northern Echo? not biased in the slightest!!!
^^^ Yes, and yet another traveller based article with comments blocked!!! The Northern Echo? not biased in the slightest!!! D. Hop
  • Score: 7

11:52am Tue 10 Jun 14

dm1970 says...

Could of done with them at springfield park yesterday, would of been more use than the scared coppers there. And why NE, did you not print any pics of all the rubbish that was left behind, yet we can all guess carnt we.
Could of done with them at springfield park yesterday, would of been more use than the scared coppers there. And why NE, did you not print any pics of all the rubbish that was left behind, yet we can all guess carnt we. dm1970
  • Score: 7

9:41am Wed 11 Jun 14

Alan Macnab says...

I live near Springfield Park. Springfield Park was a no go area for residents last weekend because it had been invaded. Councillor Wallis talks about changing trespass laws. There is no need to change any trespass laws Sections 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Oder Act 1994 gives the police sufficient powers to get trespassers off the land quickly, I have asked Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable why they did not use these powers, The park was heavily rutted with tyre marks and there was litter all over the park. It was a scene of utter devastation after they left on Monday. The field on the other side of the Green Lane bridlepath from the park was used as a toilet at the weekend and there are still wet wipes all over the field. Livid doesn't come close to how I feel.
I live near Springfield Park. Springfield Park was a no go area for residents last weekend because it had been invaded. Councillor Wallis talks about changing trespass laws. There is no need to change any trespass laws Sections 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Oder Act 1994 gives the police sufficient powers to get trespassers off the land quickly, I have asked Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable why they did not use these powers, The park was heavily rutted with tyre marks and there was litter all over the park. It was a scene of utter devastation after they left on Monday. The field on the other side of the Green Lane bridlepath from the park was used as a toilet at the weekend and there are still wet wipes all over the field. Livid doesn't come close to how I feel. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 1

12:31pm Wed 11 Jun 14

D. Hop says...

Speaking from personal experience, I know first hand that the police fear these people. That's why our town is becoming overrun and lawless!!!
Speaking from personal experience, I know first hand that the police fear these people. That's why our town is becoming overrun and lawless!!! D. Hop
  • Score: 3

3:19pm Wed 11 Jun 14

DarloXman says...

"Chief Constable Mike Barton said he thought the gnomes were a brilliant idea."

Says it all really! If this is the best idea we have to fight crime we might as well give up! Pathetic!

Here's an idea - how about a zero tolerance campaign towards all lawlessness - by real police officers! Is this too difficult?
"Chief Constable Mike Barton said he thought the gnomes were a brilliant idea." Says it all really! If this is the best idea we have to fight crime we might as well give up! Pathetic! Here's an idea - how about a zero tolerance campaign towards all lawlessness - by real police officers! Is this too difficult? DarloXman
  • Score: 3

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