'We are at a critical stage... people must take responsibility for their actions'

Quiet streets in Ipswich

Ipswich in lockdown. People have been urged to take responsibility for their actions - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

I do hope you were able to enjoy a relaxing festive season under the present circumstances, and wish you all a happy and healthy new year. 

Although there is hope on the horizon with a Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out, we are now at a critical point in the fight against the virus.  

Suffolk Constabulary chief constable Steve Jupp Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chief Constable of Suffolk Steve Jupp - Credit: Archant

However, as this new strain of Covid-19 is more transmissible, it has necessitated us going into another national lockdown, and I fully understand how dispiriting it is for us all, especially in the depths of winter.

Although the constabulary’s sickness levels remain remarkably low, we alongside all other constabularies, have seen a dramatic rise in the number of our staff who have sadly contracted Covid-19.  

It is now more important than ever for us to continue to make sacrifices if we are to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the NHS.  While my officers and staff will do their utmost to keep people as safe as possible, we must all take personal responsibility for our actions.  

Suffolk and its emergency services need everyone to stick to the restrictions and stay at home.  We have been living with the virus since last March and there surely cannot be anyone now who does not know what they are being instructed to do.

For our part, the constabulary will continue to police using common sense as we have done over the past 10 months.  We understand some people may have a momentary lapse of concentration or may make genuine mistakes where the rules are concerned. In those instances, we will engage with them, explain the restrictions and encourage them to modify their behaviour.

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However, others who blatantly ignore the restrictions should be in no doubt that officers will enforce them through fixed penalty notices.  So, my message is, look after yourselves and look after each other. Suffolk is a special place and we all need to pull together.

Council tax precept rise - have your say

You may have seen information about plans from Tim Passmore, our Police and Crime Commissioner, with regard to having more officers and better communication this year, by asking you to comment on his proposal to raise the policing element of the council tax by 30p a week for the next financial year for a Band D property.  

The proposal to increase police officer numbers  by 25 would enhance police visibility, and improving communication would increase our capacity to deal with complex investigations.  

Please do take time to respond to his survey which can be found at www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk and is open until January 28. 

Suffolk is continuing to grow and develop, and we must keep pace to ensure the constabulary is equipped to deal with new emerging challenges that meets the needs of all our communities.  

The constabulary needs to continue to focus on improving investigations, protecting vulnerable people and provide better public contact and communications.  This investment is essential to ensure the constabulary continues to deliver a high quality service, catches criminals and keeps the public safe.

I am delighted to update you that Suffolk will have achieved its uplift of an extra 54 officers allocated by the governments Police Uplift Programme, by March 2021.

For year 2 of the programme (April ’21- March’22) we have been allocated a further 53 officers in addition to the 25 officers proposed through the precept increase.  

These extra officers give us the ability to target the criminals causing most harm across our communities and to keep you safe.  

The national Uplift programme is the most significant change in policing for generations. It provides the service a once in a lifetime opportunity to focus on bringing diverse talent into the service, a more representative workforce better equipped to understand and meet the needs of our communities.

We will soon be opening our recruitment lines with an ambition of bringing in a workforce of confident professionals, able to operate with the skills and capabilities required for a future in policing.  You will see our recruitment campaigns over the coming weeks.

A well deserved honour

Finally, I would like to congratulate Special Inspector David Howse on his British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List for voluntary service to policing.  

David, who has volunteered for the constabulary for 11 years, shows an unparalleled commitment and innovative approach to voluntary public service.  He is a proven leader and consistently manages to work a staggering average of 70 voluntary hours per month, despite having a full time role with the MOD Police.  This recognition for David’s outstanding work is thoroughly deserved.