Days of bobbies on the beat in Suffolk “gone” amid squeezed budgets and 14% rise in demand for police
- Credit: Gregg Brown
“I am afraid those days are gone” – that’s the message from Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore on bobbies patrolling the beat.
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Panel met this morning in Bury St Edmunds to discuss a host of issues, including the perceived lack of visibility of officers in the community.
Public leaders had shared their concerns in a report published ahead of the meeting, with some stating that, particularly in rural communities, the level of police visibility was “none”.
Speaking to the panel, Mr Passmore said the combination of increased workloads and a lack of funding from central government were factors.
“I know this is of huge significance to the public, and we are all on the same page,” he said.
“But it does come down to resources and priorities.
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“We have to make decisions where we have finite resources.”
In relation to bobbies on the beat, he added: “I am afraid those days are gone.”
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He pointed to the combination of a 14% rise in overall demand for Suffolk Constabulary coupled with the county not getting “a fair share of resources from the Home Office”, which meant more serious crimes were prioritised.
The panel also heard that the rise in crimes such as fraud, and cybercrime which largely did not exist 30 years ago meant tackling crime was different.
Mr Passmore said measures such as increasing road policing had helped, but admitted it was “not enough”.
The force plans to carry out more work with its communications in allaying public perceptions that areas of Suffolk are not safe and police not around.
Colin Hedgley from Suffolk Coastal District Council said that the public mindset was that police were being compared to how they operated 30 years ago.
Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee added: “In the days of Dixon of Dock Green way back we had none of that [mobile phone and cybercrime] – it’s a different world we are moving in and I think society has to wake up to that.”
Mr Passmore said improvement to its safer neighbourhood team newsletters, as well as using social media and Police Connect text messages were part of its work in addressing visibility, as well as continued public engagement events and better publicised work.