Saturday, April 21, 2007

British bobby wins Lithuanian personality of the year

A Police Officer in Norfolk has just won Lithuania's personality of the year award. The country's main commercial TV channel TV3 sent a crew to the town last month to make a film about his achievement.

He won the station's personality of the year section of the awards after tens of thousands of Lithuanian viewers voted for him. PC Pettengell and his wife Sarah, also a police officer, were flown out this week to take part in the televised Pride of Lithuania awards in the capital Vilnius.

PC Gary Pettengell is an ordinary Bobby on the Beat in Great Yarmouth. He was moved to work on the seafront, and there came into contact with the community's large immigrant Lithuanian population who more often than not were in trouble with the law, usually for acts of petty theft.

So far so unexceptional. It was Gary's response to this which was amazing.

It would have been so easy to think well, crime and immigrants, that's life isn't it? But Gary didn't. Instead he went to the library, got out some language tapes and taught himself some basic Lithuanian in his drive to work. He then went about trying to understand this community, eventually uncovering the other half of the story.

Lithuanians were coming here via dodgy intermediaries and through work agencies who paid them little, and took most of that away on board and lodgings. Some had not eaten for a week, and resorted to crime simply to eat. Gary was disturbed enough to begin to address these problems. Firstly, by posting information on the web about basic services, how to get an NI number, how to access medical care, how to get a bank account. He then lobbied the local Criminal Justice Board to dset up money for a Welcome to Norfolk website which now contains all this information.

2 comments:

Debbie said...

What a Bobby!

Don't you feel good paying for all of that in your taxes??

dom said...

Sure ! WTG! now he's off to arrest some kids for drawing Hopscotch