Following on from last month’s Vera’s views (www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk), I wanted to focus further on neighbourhood policing.
When I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, I gave a commitment that I would do everything I could to protect neighbourhood policing – it’s one of the most effective ways of ensuring local police officers and community support officers engage with residents across Northumbria. Towards the end of October, Norfolk Police revealed plans to scrap all Community Support Officers (CSOs) in light of funding cuts and changing crime trends.
Despite Northumbria Police having received the biggest cut in government grant out of all police forces in England and Wales since 2010, a reduction of £123million from its revenue budget, I have squeezed every penny out of every pound to ensure we protect the services that matter to you and your family and I following Norfolk’s decision, I reiterated, my commitment and that of the Acting Chief Constable to maintain the number of CSOs in Northumbria.
Neighbourhood policing remains a force priority and careful managing of the force budget means the force can maintain a visible presence on the streets. Our Community Support Officers do a fantastic job working with police officers and they are at the forefront of our neighbourhood policing model. Crime trends have changed but CSOs have an important role to play in combating complex crimes such as child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and cyber-crime.
I fully appreciate the difficult situation that Theresa May and Amber Rudd have put Norfolk Police in, especially as our force has been one of the worst hit by cuts to the police budget but we have been managing our budget very carefully to maintain a visible policing presence on our streets. For example, we have invested heavily in technology to ensure officers aren’t stuck behind desks but are out on the streets keeping our communities safe. We also changed our neighbourhood model and merged some sectors to take out levels of management and protect the number of officers on the ground.
I am committed to working with the Chief Constable to manage our budget so we can protect front line policing but the thin blue line is already stretched to the limit. The Home Secretary needs to ensure a proper funding formula that is fair to Northumbria so we can continue providing a professional service to our local communities.