Police promise more proactive approach to crime fighting in the year ahead
'We will continue in our quest to become even more proactive'
As we begin 2020 I am encouraged and enthused by the new government's prioritisation of law and order, writes Chief Constable, Steve Jupp, of Suffolk Constabulary.
I believe that we now need to take a longer view on how we keep everyone safe by considering the best ways of preventing crime and supporting vulnerable people through not being exploited and entering into varying degrees of criminality. You may have read that the government is proposing a Royal Commission into criminal justice, and I have already had discussions with fellow Chief Constables to ensure that all our views are represented, not just those from the larger metropolitan areas.
In this year ahead we will continue in our quest to become even more proactive to deny criminals opportunities and to ensure that those who we arrest we put before the courts.
There is currently a public consultation on whether to increase the precept. Last year we invested this money wisely and have demonstrated to you the benefits. We need to continue in this vein. Confidence to us is really important. We all want to deliver the police service you deserve and I can assure you that every person in the Constabulary is committed to doing that.
Like other public services what we have been asked to take on in the last few years has grown and, at the same time, our budgets have shrunk considerably. I totally understand and respect everyone's desire to see a police officer in their towns and villages, and with the support of government in the uplift of officers over the next three years I will be aiming to try and deliver that more and more.
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Much has been said in relation to the closure of police stations, but in fact with the exception of only a very few which still ensures we have a local policing presence in the county, we have not shut any police stations but have closed the front counters. We did this after extensive research into the use of our front counter service.
This demonstrated to me overwhelmingly that people were visiting us primarily for non-policing purposes. Difficult choices always have to be made, particularly in the public sector, and closing the front counters allowed a significant reinvestment into front line services.
The next year will be about that commitment - the commitment to cut crime to catch and convict criminals, and to keep you safe. British policing is successful because we are part of the community.
In 2020 I will be looking to build new ways of staying connected with you, for you to understand what we are doing on your behalf, and for you to be able to talk to us. It is easy to say that Suffolk is one of the safest counties in the country, but the perception of crime and safety is really important to us in the Constabulary, and we will work harder to not only catch criminals but to make you feel safer.
While I have been looking forward, it is also important to reflect on where we finished 2019. It was great to listen to the feedback across the county on a BBC Radio Suffolk programme I was involved in recently. The words of support embolden all of us and are hugely appreciated across the Constabulary. Not only do I want to thank, like you did, all police officers and staff for their hard work and commitment in 2019, but I would like to recognise the fantastic commitment of our Specials and volunteers. Last year members of the Special Constabulary completed over 43,000 hours of work, which was a 19% increase on 2018, whilst Police Support Volunteers completed 15,000 hours - this is almost double on 2018. This is an absolutely brilliant achievement.
Lastly, I wish you much happiness for 2020 and look forward to working for you as your Chief Constable.