CRACKING down on drug supply and anti-social behaviour are among the ongoing objectives for Stoke North’s area commander.
Chief Inspector Mark Barlow has been in post for a year, looking after one of the county’s most diverse areas, after previously working as deputy area commander for Newcastle’s neighbourhood policing team.
The Stoke North area commander role is a post he is clearly passionate about. Mark was born and bred in the local area and, after studying at university and working briefly for the Inland Revenue, he joined West Midlands Police.
He moved back to Staffordshire and has also worked for the Force’s Prevent Team, Resolution Centre and Prisoner Handling Team. He has clocked up twenty years’ service.
His local knowledge is very useful as Stoke North is a patch with many different elements.
“It’s challenging but that’s what makes the job rewarding and interesting and every day is different. We have diverse communities – perhaps more so than most other parts of the county.
“We also have a varied landscape and environment to police. We have the city centre in Hanley, but also town centres such as Tunstall and Burslem. We have large housing estates and also huge green spaces and popular spots such as Westport Lake.”
Mark is doing a lot of planning work with the local authority and councillors to understand the issues in Stoke North, especially as the country begins to come out of lockdown.
“It’s a challenging time as we’re all having to cope with real change. It’s important we get things right and we’re patient and work together to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
He says that his officers have a patrol strategy which is regularly revised and are paying attention to areas where people are expected to congregate such as parks.
“We’re increasing our patrols in these areas and working closely with the City Council and other partners. We constantly revise how we tackle crime and anti-social behaviour,” he says.
So, how has Mark’s first year been?
“In my first twelve months I’ve had a real focus on tackling anti-social behaviour because we talk to people and we know this is a consistent issue. We’re also working hard to tackle drug dealing in the area and reduce the effect it has on the lives of the local community.”
“We’re also committed to tackling the threat of domestic violence. What is critical is that we work closely with our community, businesses and local leaders to understand the issues and continue to tackle them.”
Mark says his approach is to let others try ideas and methods and learn in a supported environment.
“I try to spend lots time with my sergeants and team and am constantly amazed with their hard work and dedication.”
Mark relaxes by watching football and spending time with his family.