Police and crime commissioner explains changes to local policing in Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 11:30 04 August 2018
A fortnight ago the chief constable announced proposed changes to local policing in Suffolk and I'd like to take this opportunity to explain the rationale behind these changes.
You’re hopefully aware a major part of my role as your Police and Crime Commissioner is to represent the public interest and hold the chief constable to account for operational policing matters in Suffolk. On your behalf, I work with the chief constable to ensure any changes to policing reflect the needs of the communities we serve. The headline for the proposals is the redeployment of 104 officers into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which will lead to greater visibility, along with a greater emphasis on crime detection, response and crime prevention. The downside to these improvements is a reduction in the number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) from the current strength of 82 to 48.
So why the change? Well the reasons are largely driven by two factors. The first is in direct response to people’s concerns about lack of visibility and the other reason is financial pressure.
I speak to a lot of people across the county and I have asked the chief constable to address the matters raised through this public engagement – and these proposals do address these legitimate visibility and response matters in particular. As regards the financial pressures, the Constabulary faces a significant increase in demand for emergencies coupled with a huge change in the pattern of crime, but the force must live within its means – we just cannot spend money we don’t have. The significant increase in the policing element of your council tax only helped plug a rather large black hole in our finances so I must reassure you we really are doing the best we can.
Some painful decisions have to be made, including the proposal to reduce the number of PCSO’s. It does remain the case, our PCSO’s do an excellent job for all of us which is why – unlike some forces, PCSOs will continue to work throughout the county; they are an important part of the policing family. The chief constable’s proposals aim to have the right people in the right place and with the right powers to keep you safe. We believe this balance of additional police officers in local policing will provide this.
For a comprehensive explanation of the proposed changes to the local policing model please refer to our website www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk.