Suffolk police among lowest ranking forces for public confidence
- Credit: Rachel Edge
Suffolk Constabulary has one of the lowest levels of public confidence in the country, it has emerged.
The force is ranked in the bottom five nationally - 37th of 42 organisations - for the percentage of people who have confidence in the police overall.
According to the most recent survey, which covers the 12 months to June 2019, 71.9% of people said they had confidence in the force - below the national average of 75.3%.
What did the police have to say?
Chief Constable Steve Jupp said the constabulary is taking the results "extremely seriously", with an internal public confidence board being set up to investigate.
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"Clearly, we're disappointed at the figures," he said.
"We are slightly confused, if I'm honest. We capture everything that everyone says to us plus everything that the public write into me, and I see a real disconnect between everything the public is saying to me, which seems out of kilter to what this survey is saying.
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"At the highest level of the organisation, we are taking this extremely seriously. We're looking at this in a sense that we're looking at a whole raft of different avenues to see how we can unpick this and give the public the service that we feel they deserve.
"But as I say, I am somewhat perplexed that what I am being told face to face and in phone-ins from the public is at odds with what this very small survey is telling us."
What does the survey suggest?
The survey results are published in a report prepared ahead of a meeting taking place tomorrow , which will see Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore scrutinise the data.
According to the data, the force comes in at 38 of 42 nationally for the percentage of people who agree police are doing a good job (52.7%), and ranks in the same position for those who agree police deal with community priorities (49.6%).
The constabulary ranks slightly higher, at 33, for the percentage of people who agree police would treat them fairly (65%).
Confidence levels have been in decline since 2016, the report adds, and although there is no definitive reason, the downward trend can be "mapped against changes to operating models and reductions in officer/staff numbers, as a result of cuts to police funding".
Suffolk 'one of smallest and poorest funded forces in country'
Chief Constable Jupp admits the force had to make some "difficult decisions" around local policing, and added: "We are one of the smallest and poorest funded forces in the country, but we are still one of the safest counties.
"That isn't by luck - there is really good, effective policing going on, highlighted by some of the recent court cases - that is really high quality policing that has ensured that many people have received good custodial sentences.
"We've invested public money from the precept last year, we've got lots of proactive policing teams, our arrest rates have soared in terms of the crimes that our public are really concerned about.
"I know what the public want, they want to feel safe and secure, their house won't be burgled and their car won't be broken into. Keeping Suffolk safe is our priority.
But he added: "I recognise the concerns that the public have, and I know that not just in Suffolk, but across the country, people want to see more police visibility. I can't guarantee the visibility, but what I can do is guarantee we're working really hard as a constabulary to catch and convict criminals, and therefore keeping us all safe."
Federation to 'lobby MPs for fairer deal'
Darren Harris, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, said cuts to policing have taken place since 2010.
"We have had to remodel and cut our officers, and now we are seeing a decline in confidence due to those funding issues.
"The PCC often talks about wanting fairer funding for Suffolk, we are underfunded and have the rough end of the stick. I support the PCC's point of view on this and we need to lobby our MPs to get a fairer deal for our force.
"We now have a new parliament, and a new MP for Ipswich, we will be reaching out to them, writing to them about the funding problems we have in Suffolk and ask them for their support to help us change it."
PCC: 'Difficult to fathom' why force ranks so poorly
Mr Passmore said the crime survey ranking "did not make any sense to me at all".
"It is certainly not reflective of the very positive engagement I have with the majority of Suffolk residents I meet," he added.
"Suffolk is a low crime area and a safe place in which to live and work.
"The constabulary is graded 'good' by the HMIC for effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy so I find it difficult to fathom out why in this survey we rank so poorly.
He added: "Public confidence is hugely important and that is why I have asked the chief constable to explain what he is doing to increase public confidence in the constabulary.
"This will be done in a public meeting at police HQ on Friday morning and anyone who comes along will be made very welcome."
A Home Office spokesman added: "The government is delivering on the people's priorities by putting 20,000 extra police officers on the streets over the next three.
"In the first wave of this unprecedented uplift, Suffolk Constabulary will be able to recruit 54 additional officers - a 4% increase - by the end of March 2021."