Opinion: 'It's good to see investment in local policing'

A policeman managing a crowd

Tim is pleased investment is being made in policing - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Since my last column I’ve been to Number 10 to discuss policing issues with the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the policing minister.  I was delighted to accept the invitation for the hour-long question and answer session with fellow PCCs; it is so important to have the opportunity for a frank exchange of views on policing and crime prevention. 

I was pleased to hear the PM stress how important the PCC’s strategic role is for delivering the government’s commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers. Suffolk’s share of these additional officers will make a significant difference in the county with officer numbers up to over 1,300, which is the most officers we’ve had since I was first elected in 2012. 

A wide range of topics were discussed in the session including the new Home Office Policing Plan measures, called the Beating Crime Plan. It was clear in the discussions some of my fellow commissioners are concerned the Home Office requirements will compromise local mandates and our individual Police and Crime Plans. Whilst I completely understand these concerns, I do not believe there is much to be worried about in Suffolk. Having discussed the Home Office measures with our Chief Constable, I can reassure you the measures in the national plan are already prominent requirements in our draft Suffolk Police and Crime Plan which we will publish later in the year.  

For example, we already have a major two-year investment programme to upgrade and improve the 101 call-handling in Suffolk – a top public concern and a key theme in the national plan. A further measurement focuses on reducing neighbourhood crime with specific emphasis on tackling burglary, theft and car crime. This is something we all wish to see and will certainly be made easier through the government Uplift programme which sees Suffolk recruiting around 165 additional police officers over three years up to 2022. 

One issue raised at the session, that is causing a huge concern across the country, is the continuing threat from the illegal county lines drug business. It was very pleasing to hear Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, single out Suffolk as an example of how effective a multi-agency approach can be in closing down county lines activity.  A huge amount of work has been done by the constabulary on county lines and it was great to see this being recognised at such a high-profile event. 

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As part of the discussions on preventing crime, many of us shared experiences of what our commissioning work delivers in support of young people and help them make the right choices in life. The Home Secretary and policing minister are big fans of such work, and I was able to give some examples of what has been achieved in Suffolk through our Youth Intervention Fund that has supported thousands of our youngsters over the last few years to good effect..   

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is often a real nuisance in communities, and this can be aided by a PCC’s strategic role of bringing organisations together and developing multi-agency solutions. The police clearly have a significant role to play in tackling ASB, but so too do local authorities. All of us as individuals must make sure we set the right examples of good behaviour. 

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Placing the victim at the heart of all we do throughout the criminal justice system is something Boris and Priti Patel are especially passionate about, and I expect to see a renewed commitment from government departments during the remainder of this government in attending to victims’ needs. It was also really encouraging to discuss the need to help offenders change their ways with appropriate support and training coupled with employment opportunities and reduce re-offending.  

As a reminder to Boris of our great county, I gave him a bag of Maltesers, which, in case you did not know, contains malt made at Muntons in Stowmarket. I hope he enjoyed them! 

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