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Police face ‘big challenge’ to meet demand over the next four years

PUBLISHED: 08:13 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:13 10 October 2018

Police appealing for information after car stolen off driveway in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Police appealing for information after car stolen off driveway in Ipswich. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Suffolk police is facing a “big challenge” to cope with increased demand over the next four years, according to the county’s crime commissioner.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore is calling for increased funding Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore is calling for increased funding Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tim Passmore’s comments come after Suffolk police’s first Force Management Statement (FMS), which sets out a wide-ranging assessment of the force, was revealed.

Mr Passmore continued his calls for Suffolk to receive the same funding as Norfolk – bringing in an extra £3.5m a year – to tackle the forecast demand.

The FMS is a self-assessment that chief constables prepare and give to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Management of sex offenders

Martlesham Heath police investigation centre  Picture: LUCY TAYLORMartlesham Heath police investigation centre Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The management of sex offenders is one of the areas highlighted in the FMS, and the report says the force will not be able to meet the demand of the rising numbers without “increasing the capacity internally or within key partnerships”.

The majority of registered sex offenders managed by Suffolk police are rated as low or medium risk but the number has consistently increased and rose 7.2% last year.

The number of registered sex offenders is forecast to rise by 11%-29% over the next four years.

The report says legislative changes on stalking, and possible changes on revenge porn could increase demand in the future.

Rachel Kearton, assistant chief constable, said: “When we set up the register however many years ago, a number of people were put on it for a long time and some of them are on it for life.

“So it doesn’t necessarily mean that the situation is getting worse.

“The Public Protection Unit (PPU) is changing from a number of police officers to civilian police staff, which doesn’t change things on a day-to-day basis as they still receive the same training and have the same expertise.

“But what is does mean is that those staff will stay in that area as opposed to police officers who might go and come back into it.”

County Lines and gang associated violence

Criminals advancing their use of technology and the threats posed to vulnerable communities by ‘County Lines’ businesses also requires a continued “robust response”, according to the report.

Suffolk police said it is only by “partnership working” that the root causes of gang-related violence in the county will be addressed.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “We are constantly reviewing all crime being reported to us to ensure we deploy our resources effectively and to this end we recognise the threat posed by ‘county lines’ and associated gang violence.

“Consequently, we have made appropriate changes to our policing model to ensure we respond effectively to these threats and we will continue to adapt the way we work to ensure we provide a service which is fit for Suffolk’s future needs.

“It is only by partnership working that the root causes and the long-term effects of gang and drug-related violence in the county will be addressed and this work is on-going in Suffolk.

“We conduct regular operations responding to offences linked to illegal drug activity and ‘county lines’ as part of our on-going work under our localised Operation Velocity activity.”

Infrastructure and workforce issues

The report said that the force is “generally well equipped” but does need to address issues in both infrastructure and its workforce.

The management of information and data will continue to require investment, according to the report, and the force implemented a new IT system within its contact and control room in May this year.

In terms of its workforce, Suffolk police was one of the first forces in the country to roll out a direct entry detective initiative to address the deficit.

The scheme gives people the chance to train as detectives without the need for two years of working as beat officers.

Tim Passmore reaction

Mr Passmore said: “As a PCC, I have a lot of confidence in Suffolk Constabulary as a force.

“The report does show that the force faces a big challenge and it is a balancing act. As crime becomes more complex then there is a need to prioritise.

“It sounds terrible but crime which is seen as low-level, in which people are not being physically harmed, will have a lower priority.

“I’ve been saying for some time that we should receive the same money as Norfolk.

“But for some of the gang-related crime, I’ve said before that we’re not going to police our way out of it.

“Better collaboration is needed with partner agencies to tackle the issue.”

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