Suffolk: County should retain faith in its police force despite national issues - says Assistant Chief Constable
09:00 04 April 2014
Scandals like Hillsborough, Plebgate and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry have shaken public confidence in the police nationally.
Earlier this week the fragile nature of the public’s perception of police officers was highlighted in a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.
In response to its findings Suffolk’s Assistant Chief Constable David Skevington explainsed why the county has every reason to retain faith in its forces and those who serve in it.
He said “Some of the national headlines during the last year have not made comfortable reading for police leaders.
“Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor concluded a series of controversies had damaged, but certainly not broken, the public’s perception of the police when he released his Annual Assessment of Policing.
“It is not my place to comment on these controversies, which have been largely historic and taken place many miles away from Suffolk.
“But I do want to focus on policing in Suffolk – and outline why local people should be confident their police service is up to the challenge of keeping them safe.
“I want to start with Mr Winsor’s assessment. Included are separate reports for all 43 forces in England and Wales, looking at plans to meet the challenge of budget cuts while maintaining an effective police service. I would like to quote from Suffolk’s report: ‘The force has developed a strong and effective change programme which will enable Suffolk to meet its financial challenge while keeping a sound focus on reducing recorded crime and keeping its communities safe. Through its exemplary work with Norfolk Constabulary, Suffolk has embraced collaboration ... recorded crime continues to fall in Suffolk and overall crime rates are lower than in other forces’.
“Mr Winsor’s report followed another report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, looking at domestic abuse. Again, each force was inspected and Suffolk was among a small group highlighted as performing well.
“In fact, Suffolk’s report stated victims of domestic abuse can have confidence in the service they receive from their local police.
“We are held to account not only by HMIC but locally by the Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, working to the objectives contained in his Police and Crime Plan. Our latest performance figures suggest we are meeting most objectives, with crime falling, solved rates improving – and strong performance in handling emergency calls and attending incidents quickly.
“We’re also providing a quality service when people need us – with more people saying they are satisfied with the police service they have received.
“Local survey figures show more than 90% of people feel safe in the county. The Crime Survey of England & Wales shows 77.5% of people in Suffolk have confidence in the police in their area, placing us 11th nationally.
“But it isn’t just about statistics. Our Chief Constable Douglas Paxton puts confidence in policing and victim satisfaction at the forefront of our policing style.
“We recognise that we must concentrate on solving the problems that really matter to people and do it in a manner that shows we are committed while being compassionate and supportive.
“We need to ensure that our officers have the tools to do the job, from the kit they wear to the mobile data devices we are currently developing to allow them to spend more time where it matters – out in the community.
“We need to let people know what we are doing because transparency breeds confidence. Every day, our officers are doing something that makes a difference, whether it is taking the first steps to rid a community of persistent anti-social behaviour, or saving the life of a vulnerable person. Of course, we receive complaints. “And people can be assured that these will be rigorously investigated, action taken where necessary and lessons learned.
“But it is important to note letters of appreciation far outnumber those of complaint, and demonstrate t the bravery and resourcefulness of Suffolk’s officers and staff.
“My hope is this: that the dedication the officers of Suffolk Constabulary display each and every day gives people the confidence to go about their lives without fear, knowing their police are committed to keeping them and their loved ones safe from harm.”