Plans for the future of community policing announced

Today I joined the Chief Constable, Gareth Wilson to announce a proposed restructure which would see more than 100 police officers move into Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs).

The extra resource aims to ensure the constabulary has the ability to respond to the increasing demand it faces, and the public’s desire for more visible policing.

The changing nature of crime and its rise in certain areas means Suffolk’s policing model needs to be as flexible, effective and efficient as possible for the communities it serves.

To reflect this, the force is looking to move 97 police constables and seven sergeants into its SNTs. This would mean there would be 159 PCs and 26 sergeants in its SNTs.

We intend to do so by restructuring the way we work and looking at the best use of our resources.

To achieve this, and remain within the challenging financial landscape the constabulary has to operate in, it is proposing to reduce the number of police community support officers from the current 81 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts to 48 FTEs.

The budgeted number of posts is 107, although PCSO vacancies have remained unfilled since 2017 to keep those put at risk of redundancy to a minimum.

The transition would strengthen the resilience of the force’s policing of community issues and ensure the right resources are in the right place at the right time.

The purpose of the proposed changes is to provide a proactive policing resource that puts visibility and accessibility at its forefront.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: “Local policing is the bedrock of our service. A major part of the evolution of our policing model is listening to the public and responding to what they tell us, and we appreciate their primary desire is to see as many officers on the frontline as possible.

“What we have also had to do is to look at our increasing demand and adapt the way we work to ensure we provide a service which is fit for Suffolk’s future needs.

“Moving more than 100 officers will allow us to be more effective in meeting the challenges we are facing.

“We have had to make some difficult decisions about the composition of our future workforce and the blend of skills and abilities we will require.

“However, we acknowledge the value of PCSOs and are still committed to them continuing to play a key role within communities. Although the balance of our workforce will need to change, PCSOs remain an important part in the provision of a high-quality police service in Suffolk.”

Consultation of this proposal begins on 17 July and will end no sooner than 30th August. Final decisions following this process will be made during September with the aim of implementing the agreed changes by 29th October 2018.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said: “As I meet people across the county, one thing is clear; residents want as many officers as possible on the front-line. I’m pleased to say we have listened.

“These proposals could see an extra 104 police officers moving into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams from October this year.

“In order to do this some police roles have been civilianised, officers have been moved from central to local teams and regrettably the number of PCSOs will reduce, but the outcome will be more officers will be available for local policing and that’s great news for Suffolk.”

Mr Passmore added: “The Chief Constable needs to continually review his plans to ensure they are keeping pace with the pressure the Constabulary faces and that is why we’re introducing some significant changes to the current policing model.

“I fully endorse these changes, which I am pleased to say increases the number of front-line local police officers and as Police and Crime Commissioner, I will be monitoring the impact of this new model to ensure the people of Suffolk are getting the police service they deserve.”

BOOKLET: A local Police Service for Suffolk’s Future (PDF, 11MB)