Cop Shop donates gifts to Bristol Children’s Hospital

Avon and Somerset Police (A&SP) have made Christmas at Bristol Children’s Hospital that little bit brighter by gifting presents, generously donated by shoppers of The Galleries in Bristol, to the children on its wards.

Were you one of over 3000 shoppers who visited The Galleries in Bristol and took respite in the A&SP pop up Cop Shop? As a result of the shop’s overall success, Bristol Children’s Hospital (BCH) has seen 123 gifts donated to its young patients, as they spent Christmas in hospital. In a statement from BCH, they said :

We have received 100’s of toys from countless donors and we can’t wait for Father Christmas’s visit on Christmas Day when every child receives a present. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making Christmas in hospital as fun as it can be for our children.”

Shoppers were able to donate by taking a decoration from the shop’s Christmas tree and writing their details on it including the age range and gender of the child they would like to give to.

The Cop Shop was located on the second floor of The Galleries. PIC: Luke Knight
Pop In: The Cop Shop was located on the second floor of The Galleries over Christmas. PIC: Luke Knight

The Cop Shop, which had a primary goal of preventing localised crime through raising awareness, saw over 600 shoppers enter its premises on its opening weekend and featured tips and advice on how to prevent crimes such as bike theft and burglaries. It also included a hands-on crime scene activity for parents and children to solve, as well as  giving children the opportunity to enter an art competition to create colourful posters, aimed at reducing crime at Christmas and Online.

“When my Sergeants responded to me about the idea for a Cop Shop, they said that it wouldn’t work”

Warren Rodgers, a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) based in Broadmead, came up with the unique idea over six years ago in 2009:

The idea came to me when I was walking through The Galleries and saw that a lot of shops were empty due to the recession. So I thought, why not have a Cop Shop? The original business plan I created, which I put forward to my Sergeants, outlined the idea and what I wanted to do.”

” When my Sergeants responded to me about the idea for a Cop Shop, they said that it wouldn’t work. I then went to higher management within the Police and believe it or not, within weeks, they approved the idea and said that if I can get a unit together, I can make a Cop Shop”

This year, the Cop Shop went on to draw thousands of shoppers through its doors whilst also delivering a strong presence on social media, with up to 300  people reacting to some of the posts about their shop. This encouraged more than 1,500 people to visit them in just one week.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I think the Cop Shop is a great initiative and I’m looking forward to meeting the team when I visit The Galleries.  It’s a fantastic way of engaging with our local communities and ensuring that they stay safe over the festive period.”

Overall, the general public also seemed very impressed with this years Cop Shop and were very positive about its message, some considering it a friendly and useful tool for the community:

“One officer got really heated with me to start with over the Cop Shop”

The only feedback that Warren has received, that he considers to be negative about his creation, has been from fellow PCSO’s and Police officers regarding the cost of the shop to the police force:

“One officer got really heated with me to start with over the Cop Shop. Asking what unit I was part of and who my sergeant was, as he was going to report me for wasting police funds.”

“It was only when I told him that the premises for the shop was completely free for Police use that he calmed down and changed his tune. It always has been free for us to use.”

During its initial planning stage, Warren approached the Managing Director of The Galleries, and gave him the business plan for the Cop Shop, who then proceeded to give Warren the unit for free. Since 2009, every Cop Shop has been free. Warren has had six since then.

Colin Lang, who is the Managing Director of The Galleries, said: “We’re delighted to have the police team back in the centre this year, offering a mix of interesting educational activities.”

Its first year of opening saw shop officers speak to 640 visitors in four weeks; subsequently being labeled a success by The Bristol Post. The following year, after the inclusion of a crime scene, the shop saw a huge rise in visitors, of over 4,500 people.

CSI Bristol: Shop visitors have the chance to follow the clues and solve the crime
CSI Bristol: Shop visitors have the chance to follow the clues and solve the crime

Warren Rodgers takes us through the crime scene above and what its primary aims and goals were:

As well as carrying a very serious message, the crime scene also encouraged light hearted interaction from the general public on Twitter:

PIC credit: A&SP Twitter
PIC credit: A&SP Twitter

A&SP also shared the shop space with a host of partners including Avon Fire and Rescue, Bristol City Council and Cycle Republic, who advised on bike security.

Warren, who has served the community of Broadmead for many years, thinks that awareness of crimes such as bike theft needs to be increased:

I see that many people still put D locks through the front wheel of their bicycle. Everybody should know that if you do that, its very easy for thieves to simply unbolt the front wheel and steal the bicycle.”

When I advised a member of the public about this, they had no idea that could happen and were very grateful”

The Cop Shop was open from November 25 to December 22 on the second floor.

Related Links:

Bristol Shopping Quarter – Avon and Somerset Constabulary Cop Shop

Avon and Somerset Constabulary – Calling all budding young detectives

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