Simon Cole - Local policing and partnerships, 4 May 2012
With the retirement of Chief Constable Richard Crompton I was delighted to be selected to inherit his Local Policing and Partnership Business Area. In Leicestershire Neighbourhood policing is at the core of how we set out to combat crime and anti social behaviour (ASB), with a longstanding legacy of dedicated neighbourhood teams.
This is a commitment demonstrated across the national stage, a huge part of police business is reflected through the extensive and detailed portfolios that work under the business area umbrella.
That said I know that all chiefs are having to focus their minds on how to sustain Neighbourhood policing in the face of significant austerity. The neighbourhood policing portfolio, led by Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Donald, is working hard to ensure public involvement in policing into the future despite these difficult times. That means looking at ideas from both at home and abroad.
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are inevitably, and understandably, going to have a local focus. They are going to want to know how we work and particularly what works effectively, as Neighbourhood policing is at the heart of what we do we will have to make sure we communicate this effectively.
The removal of the ring fence for Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) funding will need careful thought. There is no doubt that PCSOs have been central to crime reduction through focused problem solving and trust building. They have also provided the continuity that was so often missing prior to their existence; abstraction levels remain low, and intelligence is readily forthcoming from local people. It will be the job of ACC Jerry Kirkby (ACPO lead on PCSOs) to ensure that that bond of trust continues and that engagement with communities is always at the forefront of what we do.
Key to building that link with local communities has been combating Anti Social Behaviour. Finding new ways of confronting it was the key driver behind eight forces (selected to reflect different policing environments) taking part in the joint ACPO/Home Office pilot study to identify best practice leading to improved service. There is also an HMIC inspection report to come, following on from 2010's report.
These pilots were in part thanks to the hard work of ACC Simon Edens (ACPO lead on ASB) and Commander Ian Dyson, who brought in national contact management through the 101 phone number for non-emergencies. Ian and his team have now turned their attention to developing the National Standard for Incident Recording into a more risk assessed model. This will again improve the service members of the public receive.
PCCs will also want to look at the Community Safety Partnership (CSPs) landscape in their area. In Leicestershire all partners are now case managing ASB on a shared IT system, elsewhere multi agency hubs assessing victims and offenders are part of day to day work. These are real crime fighting initiatives, working with complex issues and people to achieve positive results.
A long time ago Robert Peel said that the police were the 'only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence' – and we encourage the citizen to play their part. DCC Rob Beckley, ACPO lead on volunteering, (who is currently delivering national volunteering road shows). Peter Davies, Chief Executive of CEOP, have been working closely with the Security Industry to make sure volunteers and security staff are fully trained. This has transformed the professionalism of steward and security staff, who play a vital part in keeping our communities safe.
Maximising the impact of engagement with local policing is crucial to our work. That engagement may be through contact on patrol, through local meetings or through new media. DCC Gordon Scobbie (from ACPO Scotland) leads on digital media as a means of engagement; that may be twitter from your local officer or PCSO, it may be Facebook sites for major events, or shared photos of those who are most wanted, or it could be an E-meeting allowing real interaction on local issues, and what police and partners will do as a consequence of public concerns.
All of these different work streams come together in the Business Area. All of them help to reduce the risk of harm, to secure public spaces for the law abiding and to fight crime. I am very much looking forward to working with some really committed colleagues to push this work forward in the coming months and years.
Simon Cole is the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police and head of the Local Policing and Partnerships Business Area.