What does 2016 have in store for Suffolk police?
- Credit: Archant
2015 was a tough year for Suffolk Constabulary. It was faced with making cuts of £20.5million by 2020, until an unexpected £9m Government windfall changed the financial landscape.
Temporary Chief Constable Gareth Wilson and Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore today speak about the future of policing in the county.
Temporary Chief Constable Gareth Wilson
2015 has been an extremely significant year for the Constabulary, with the organisation achieving a huge amount, whilst undergoing a great deal of change.
Suffolk remains an extremely safe place to live and work, and we have continued to work with our partners to address the issues that matter most to our communities and to deliver the objectives within the Police and Crime Plan.
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The Police and Crime Commissioner and I have recently announced changes to be made to our policing model.
We have had to make some very difficult decisions as we have developed this plan, but I am confident that the decisions we have made are right for the Constabulary and right for the county.
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Since making these announcements, we have received positive news from the Home Office that means our savings requirement has reduced.
This is excellent news and means that we will be able to fully embed our new policing model without the pressure of further savings to be made on top of those already identified.
This news is extremely positive and not only takes away the threat of further cuts, but also allows us to begin the recruitment of new police officers into the force.
We must remember however that we remain obliged to deliver a significant sum in savings, and to re-design for today’s challenges, so our plans for change must continue.
Suffolk Constabulary is a fantastic organisation and I am extremely proud to be leading the force throughout this period.
Every day I am impressed by the hard work and dedication carried out by our teams who are working either within our communities or behind the scenes in office-based work, to keep our county as safe as it can be.
I know that members of the public share my admiration for the force and I am absolutely committed to preserving both the level of service we provide, and the level of confidence the public has in us.
To enable this to continue, we need to fully understand the context in which we are working.
There has been a lot of comment nationally and locally about ‘changing demand’ and it is very important that tax payers understand what this means.
The calls for service we receive and the crime that we are tackling have changed.
Cyber crime is increasing, the threat from terrorism has increased, sexual offences and reports of child exploitation have drastically increased – these are all threats we were not facing at this level five years ago, and we have to be able to respond to this and to protect those we serve.
We need to be delivering policing that is right for today and equipped for the future, not simply what we have always done.
We have therefore been adapting our processes to better equip us for fighting these areas of crime.
Plans as part of our digital strategy have progressed well and we have invested in technology in areas such as automatic number plate recognition, mobile working, body worn video and shared regional crime and intelligence systems.
We have also placed staff within regional specialist agencies to provide us with ready access to expert intelligence and information relating to areas such as serious and organised crime and safeguarding.
So what does this mean for policing in 2016?
Our fundamental priorities will not change – we will do all we can, at all times to keep you safe.
Although you will see some changes in terms of our neighbourhood teams reducing and a number of front counters closing – we will continue to be here for you when you need us.
Ring 999 in an emergency or 101 when you need police help or advice and we will be there.
Behind the scenes, we will be furthering our work with partners and continuing to align our teams to demand to make sure we are doing all we can to keep our county as safe as it can be.
I would like to wish you all asafe and happy New Year and Ilook forward to working with you in 2016.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore
Thursday December 17 was a rather unusual day – as expected, the details from the Home Office on our funding for Suffolk Constabulary were confirmed for next year, but within the bulletin was an unexpected surprise.
Before the Home Office announcement, our savings target was £20.5 million but this has now been reduced by several million and I know both the Chief Constable and myself are very pleased indeed.
As a result of this welcome announcement I am really pleased that after a gap of two years the Constabulary is now able to restart recruiting extra police officers and this helps to maintain our reputation as one of the safest counties in England and Wales.
Whether this is a sign of festive good cheer or divine intervention this Christmas tide I don’t know, but it does provide some limited opportunities to tweak the details of the policing review that we announced earlier in the month.
Please remember we still need to deliver significant savings of our total budget and it is fraught with challenge and complexity.
I must make it crystal clear, difficult choices remain.
What is certain to me, is that the continual focus on efficiency and effectiveness must continue so the Constabulary is able to keep us all safe as this is the absolute priority.
At the beginning of December, when I announced the Suffolk Local Policing Review I explained it had two main themes – the savings of £5million and the transformation of the way local policing is delivered.
The main thrust of the review is the transformation of operational activity, largely caused by the enormous change in the pattern of crime and the continual growth and development of new technologies.
The concept of change has been present in our midst ever since man was created – the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “There is nothing permanent except change.”
Over two thousand years later, John F Kennedy told the world that, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future,” – a very poignant and timely reminder of what must be done.
The rise in levels of internet and cyber-enabled crimes is of stratospheric proportion.
Huge quantities of criminal activity focus on making money illegally and they don’t care one little bit about the consequences or personal distress they cause through their dreadful behaviour.
The (mostly) welcome advances in technology enable criminals to conduct new types of crime or commit traditional forms of crime in different ways.
The net result leaves most of us vulnerable to activities such as email scams, credit card fraud and identity theft.
In addition there is an increasing threat from terrorism which must be taken seriously, including here in Suffolk.
We must remain vigilant and report all suspicious activity and part of my role as commissioner is to ensure Suffolk Constabulary has the right resources in the right place to counter these threats.
There are other brutal and heinous crimes in our midst that also have to be confronted head on.
I find it so distressing when I hear of cases of domestic violence and the consequences for the victims; cases of modern slavery and human trafficking, often coupled with illegal immigration.
Organised crime groups make a fortune out of other people’s misery and vulnerability.
Quite simply we must deal with the criminals, bring them to justice and ensure they are suitably punished – nothing else will do!
The sickening growth in child sexual exploitation is totally unacceptable and the explosion in the number of crimes in this dreadful area is deeply worrying.
We have a moral obligation to try and do everything possible to look after and care for our children and others who are vulnerable.
As we approach 2016 I know Suffolk and our Constabulary will face the future with renewed drive and confidence, which has been greatly assisted by the recent funding announcement.