Suffolk’s blueprint for the future of policing
A RADICAL overhaul of the way Suffolk Constabulary operates is taking shape. Assistant chief constable Gary Kitching spoke to crime correspondent COLIN ADWENT about the changes and the challenges facing the force.
Responding to the calls from the public
A WEALTH of work has been undertaken over the past six months to ensure Suffolk Constabulary improves its response to, and prior it is at ion of, crimes.
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This includes looking at the distribution of workloads on officers and where necessary decreasing the number of cases officers on the street are having to investigate at any one time.
Among the initiatives heralded with making a difference to the service police provide to the public is the crime investigation bureau (CIB).
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When calls come into the call handling team at Martlesham headquarters they are now sifted between urgent incidents where a crime is in progress, and those that do not need an emergency response.
Call handling staff refer the non-urgent crime calls to the CIB, which is run by officers and police staff. They, in turn, make an appointment with the complainant and ensure the crimes are allocated and investigated.
This is said to have done a great deal to alleviate the pressures which emergency response officers were previously working under.
The next phase of the changes will begin on April 19 when officers responding to 999 calls will get their briefings at nine briefing bases instead of 23 stations around the county.
Senior officers believe this, in tandem with other modifications, will keep police out on the streets for longer and working to a less rigid structure of sectors.
All Suffolk’s response emergency calls will now be based around the nearest available unit attending when a 999 call comes in.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Kitching, who has overseen the strategic review of the force, said: “We’ve done a lot of work on our call handling. We have introduced a crime investigation bureau and halved the workloads of response officers. We have also brought in new work processes in the control room.
“Officers are saying they have more time to spend with people, which is good for improving their satisfaction with the service we provide.”
“We have switched from being a despatch centre back to what was a traditional command and control approach.
“Now we are getting to people quicker and dealing with the issues. There could be an uncommitted car sitting in Bury St Edmunds area and an event in Stowmarket that needs a unit. Before Christmas it would not normally get sent. Now if that is the nearest car available it gets sent.”
The next stage of the evolution will be to put intelligence officers alongside the staff taking the calls in the control room. The idea is that these officers will be able to give their colleagues who respond to the calls information about the locations or individuals involved.
Senior officers believe this will leave those on the street better equipped to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
Mr Kitching said: “The whole thing has been designed to improve 999 responses and make the system more resilient and better controlled.”