Blog: New policing initiatives funded by precept

There have been some brighter moments recently, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic. For me, these have revolved around launching the new policing initiatives funded by the Council Tax and the success in recruiting our share of the 20,000 extra police officers announced by the government last year.
Increasing the policing element of the Council Tax is not something I do with any pleasure at all but I hope you understand I have to balance the need to keep Suffolk safe, tackle criminality and prevent crime whilst ensuring Suffolk Police is efficient and effective as possible. These are all fundamental requirements of any Police and Crime Commissioner.
A wide range of the initiatives funded by this year’s policing precept are already in place. 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 ANPR 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 so the investment is really paying off.
During the summer the new seven-strong Kestrel Team started work with the remit to do more to combat neighbourhood crime and anti social behaviour, as well as robbery an. The team’s work will also help reduce the impact of the drugs and county lines trade especially in your area of Suffolk.
The expansion of the specialised rural crime team was prioritised because Suffolk is a large and very rural county and crimes take place in the countryside as well as in our urban communities. This extra manpower based in West Suffolk, coupled with better drone technology and capability, alongside more four-wheel drive vehicles is improving response times and more criminals are being caught. This new capacity enables the force to deal more effectively with illegal hare coursers, for example, who do so much harm to our rural economy especially in the west of the county.
As a result of Operation Uplift the Home office has provided the funding to recruit an additional 54 officers plus related costs, and I’m delighted to say that by the end of December all these new officers will be in post having completed their initial training.
The majority of the initial wave of 17 new officers was deployed in the western policing area. The second wave of 26 officers will be in post by the end of December – eight of these have been allocated to the Bury St Edmunds area. I’m very confident those extra officers will make a significant difference to public trust and confidence. The remaining eleven officers will be in joint Suffolk and Norfolk units such as major investigations and criminal justice.
On the assumption the Home Office maintains its funding commitments, there will be an extra 162 officers in our county through Operation Uplift by March 2023. 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 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’.
Lastly, can I finish with a quick reinforcement of the #StickWithItSuffolk messages on the pandemic. As a county we are doing very well to keep infection rates low, but we must not be complacent. Infection rates are rising, so please stick to the guidelines and do everything possible to combat the disease and encourage friends and relatives to do the same – for everyone’s sake.

Published in the Bury Free Press   October 2020