Blog: New policing initiatives for Suffolk

Some of the brighter moments I have experienced as PCC this year have revolved around launching the new policing initiatives for Suffolk (paid for from the increase in your police Council Tax) and the success in recruiting our share of the extra police officers (Operation Uplift) announced by the government in 2019.

When I took the decision to increase the policing element of the Council Tax earlier this year I did this with a heavy heart because the extra taxation is an unwelcome burden for many families, but I did need to ensure I did what I could to keep Suffolk safe. At the time I promised to provide regular updates on what was delivered by this extra funding, which I do on my website but I thought I’d give you some of the highlights here too.

A wide range of the initiatives already in position. Back in April four more staff were appointed to help maximise the use of the ANPR system (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) – over the years millions of pounds have been invested in ANPR. Not only does this technology help recognise vehicles which are uninsured, untaxed and without the relevant testing compliance, it helps gather intelligence on vehicles of interest used by criminals from inside and outside the UK.

Having extra staff to monitor and interpret the data is already making a real impact in the fight against crime across our county. You may remember last year the Sentinel Teams were launched and, as they are equipped with state of the art ANPR systems, it is vital their work is properly supported; so far there have been some spectacular results from this team.

During the summer the new Kestrel Team started work with the remit to do more to combat neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour as well as reduce the impact of the drugs countywide. I look forward to sharing detailed results with you later in the year, but I can certainly say the seven officers have been very busy and their endeavours have been very well received.

The expansion of the specialised rural crime team was prioritised because Suffolk is a large and very rural county and obviously crimes take place in the countryside as well as in our urban communities. This extra manpower coupled with better drone technology and more four-wheel drive vehicles is already providing improved response times in remote areas and more criminals being brought to justice. This extra capacity also enables the force to deal more effectively with illegal hare coursers, for example, who do so much harm to our rural economy.

In future columns I will update you on our new domestic abuse perpetrator scheme – designed to support the victims and reduce the incidence of repeat offending of this terrible crime. I’ll also explain how our other recent initiative to combat the effects of grooming and modern slavery is progressing. So I hope you can understand your extra money really is being used to good effect in making Suffolk safer.

As a result of Operation Uplift the government has provided the funding to recruit an additional 54 officers and I am delighted to say that by the end of December all of these new officers will be in post having completed their initial training. Every policing area of Suffolk is receiving some of these new officers – this accounts for 43 officers with the remaining 11 going into the joint Suffolk and Norfolk units such as major investigations and criminal justice.

On the assumption the Home Office maintains its funding commitments, by the time Operation Uplift is completed in March 2023 there will be at least an extra 162 officers in our county. This is a very welcome step change and will, I believe, deliver a heavy blow to the criminal fraternity.
Full detail of the extra officers paid for through the policing precept and Operation Uplift is available on my website, go to the page titled ‘How your money is improving policing in Suffolk in 2020/21’.

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times  Oct 2020