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Emerging from the Zoom bunker – in a hybrid way

Friday, July 15th, 2022

During the pandemic, many of us learned quickly how to hold meetings and carry on business remotely, via online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Chiltern & South Bucks Policing Issues Forum held its first Zoom meeting on 26th May 2020.

Moving onto Zoom turned out also to have the beneficial effects of expanding our audience, and of facilitating the invitation of guest speakers. An invitation to click in for half an hour is a much less onerous ask than giving up an entire evening, driving out to a physical venue to speak to a couple of dozen people.

But for our latest meeting, we decided that it was time to get back to meeting residents face to face. This we did at the Memorial Centre, Gerrards Cross, on July 12th. But not wishing to lose the benefits of remote attendance, we retained the Zoom facility, and organised our first ‘hybrid’ meeting.

To help reduce the risk of technical slip-ups, we chose a location which we knew had invested recently on upgrading its WiFi, and we were fortunate to be able to draw on the expertise of a highly experienced technology consultant.

Ironically, a bout of COVID prevented our chief speaker from Thames Valley Police, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector James Ellis, from attending in person. But thanks to the hybrid format, he attended online, and played a full part in updating residents on policing matters and answering their questions.

Chiltern & S Bucks Policing Issues Forum hybrid meeting held at Gerrards Cross, 12th July 2022

Positive feedback from residents attending the meeting included the following e-mail:

“Excellent! The zoom connections worked well. The on-screen presentations and sound – all clear for me.

I would imagine that in a larger room, you may need to use a mobile microphone or ask those in the room to come nearer to main microphone… Tuesday worked well as the room participants were quiet, not too much background chatting…

It was a very informative meeting, with Inspector James Ellis giving a good presentation and managing to give answers to questions posed.”

One of the stand-out features of the meeting for us, however, was the ability to talk to residents face-to-face outside the formal agenda. We were reminded that there is a real enjoyment to be had in meeting and speaking to people in person. We certainly hope that we made a few new friends and useful contacts through the meeting in Gerrards Cross. For us, the foreseeable future is hybrid.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that the following focus areas should be set for our Neighbourhood Policing teams:

  • Serious Acquisitive Crime (including Burglary);
  • AntiSocial Behaviour;
  • Speeding.

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