I recently attended a parish council meeting and was asked by one of the councillors, ‘How many police are covering this area at the moment?’
This may seem like a fairly simple question that most people would like to know the answer to, however I was not able to give a simple answer. Let me try to explain…
Each area has a local policing team, a neighbourhood team if you like. These consist of a small number of police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) who deal with local issues such as anti-social behaviour (ASB), local disputes, speeding, parking etc. The local teams also do a great deal of work with partner agencies such as local councils, social services, healthcare providers, social landlords, youth services and many more.
We then have the 24/7 shift officers who, for this area, are based in Huntingdon. These officers cover every day policing and attend incidents such as thefts, burglaries, robberies, road traffic collisions, drink drive incidents and violence, as well as a number of other issues.
On top of that there are the county-wide teams such as the Road Policing Unit (RPU), Armed Policing Unit (APU), dog handlers and even a helicopter, although we no longer have our own; we are part of a shared facility with other forces.
It is our mission to use these resources in the most effective way possible, which often means shifting them around the district or even the county. This is very much driven by demand. If a particular area is suffering from a lot of crime we will look to put larger numbers of officers in that area.
We also have officers in investigation teams, known as the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), who do not wear police uniform and patrol in unmarked police cars.
I often hear the comment ‘we don’t see police on the street very often’, but often these comments are made by people that live in areas where there are very low levels of crime. Long gone are the days where there was a police officer on every street, if indeed those days ever really existed. The fact is much of our work is done behind closed doors. We have made a commitment to protect vulnerable victims of crime and violence, and we invest a lot of resources in dealing with crime that generally the public at large are not aware of, such as serious sexual offences, cybercrime and other organised, serious crime.
In order to gain convictions at court in such cases, it takes a great deal of time and skill on the part of the investigators but it is a price worth paying to bring offenders to justice.
So there you have it, I can’t really give you any numbers but I can assure you that although some people may not see us very often, we are out there, working hard to keep Cambridgeshire safe.
Sergeant Andy Street,
St Ives and Ramsey Neighbourhood Policing Team