I have set out in many forums, including these articles, that I love quotations. Extraordinary people convey a message through a carefully and skilfully crafted sentence that I could only try to convey in pages and pages of words, and, as a consequence, I will sometimes use others’ quotations with a view to making my point in a clear, succinct and unambiguous way.
I also seek to make my point of view known through the use of dictionary definitions. As the Public Order Silver Commander charged with translating my Gold Commander’s strategy for the policing of last year’s Secret Garden Party, the four-day music festival that takes place within the district, I used words such as ‘collaborative’, ‘anti-complacent’ and ‘anticipative’ and their dictionary definitions to set out the way in which I wanted officers engaged on the policing operation to approach matters. I wanted them to work together with event organisers, partners and members of the public in order to deliver a safe event that caused minimal crime, disorder and disruption to the wider community; I did not want any complacency, and I wanted officers to think ahead with a view to predicting what might happen so that mitigating action could be considered and put into place long before an issue became problematic.
Not one of these notions – collaboration, anti-complacency or anticipation – is an example of new or innovative thinking. I would hazard a guess that they are notions or approaches, if that is a better term, that most people would expect the police to adopt. However, that stated, it is sometimes useful to remind and re-familiarise ourselves with notions or approaches such as these.
Take ‘anticipation’ for instance: the dictionary defines this as ‘the act of realising beforehand; foreseeing’. Of course, we cannot foresee everything, but, going back to the example of the Secret Garden Party, we can reasonably foresee or anticipate that with the event being what it is in terms of its size and magnitude, that, with it, will come some crime, disorder and disruption to our district. Indeed, on the four days that the event takes place, more than 30,000 people come to the district as either event-attendees or event-staff; that is more than 30,000 people using our networks – our roads and train services – in addition to everyone else that would normally use them at these times. Add into the mix associated issues such as crime trends; for instance, that one crime type associated with music and other events involving masses of people camping in fields for several nights is tent-theft, particularly on the first night when event-attendees have all their weekend spending money with them un-spent, we can reasonably anticipate and reach the unsurprising conclusion that crime levels will increase within the district in July.
Therefore, by anticipating what crime, disorder and disruption the district is likely to suffer as a result of the event, the policing operation is concerned with identifying and putting into place those tactics that seek to mitigate against them; and, of course, do all this in a collaborative, and anti-complacent way.
I was heavily involved in the torch relays that took place ahead of the Olympics four years ago. Perhaps I got to thinking about this issue because here we are again in an Olympics year. Again, with large numbers of people descending on parts of the county to line roads and see the torch, it was anticipated that there may be some associated crime and disorder; certainly, some disruption. This was the case, and I still vividly remember working with partners and police colleagues to ensure that the torch arrived safely at Parkers Piece in Cambridge on one Saturday evening in July, and, thereafter, doing the same again on the following morning as it left the city via a punt to both St Ives and Huntingdon, before leaving the county. It was in the relative early hours of a Sunday morning that the torch was in our district and yet the number of people who came to witness this event – the passage of the Olympic torch through Huntingdonshire – was tremendous.
Having anticipated these numbers and the associated issues; notably disruption, the police ensured that what they had on duty was what they considered and anticipated to be the right number of officers. They were deployed in the right numbers, in the right places. They were briefed on what was expected of them, and, ultimately, the anticipation, the planning and the execution of the police and partner-based operation contributed to safe, memorable and disruption-minimal torch relay events.
The notion of anticipation, however, is not solely reserved to large-scale policing operations.
It extends everywhere; we seek to anticipate our policing demand in its totality so that we can set adequate resourcing levels. We seek to anticipate the crime that we are more likely to see recorded to us from one month to another so that our crime prevention messaging can be relevant and meaningful.
And, in anticipating, we refer to a variety of information and data sources. For instance, we refer to recorded crime levels, we refer to the months of the year, and we refer to contextual issues. Quite frankly, we will refer to anything if it is going to give us an indication of what we can anticipate because ‘up-stream’ or more pro-active efforts, I find, are often more successful than those that are reactive in nature. Not this year because in February 2016 Huntingdonshire saw the lowest level of non-dwelling burglary offences recorded in a single month since December 2014, but, normally, shed and garage crime levels increase as we start approaching spring. Anecdotally, the good weather starts bringing people out of their homes and into their gardens, and, when they start tending to their gardens they notice that their shed – neglected over the winter months – has been broken into and had things stolen from it.
As already set out, it has not happened yet; not in Huntingdonshire, but, there is still time. Therefore, in anticipating that this might be a crime that people suffer, and, moreover, in wanting very much that this is not the case, please can I ask that you remain vigilant. There is the chance that some perpetrators of shed and garage burglaries have been and gone already, but there is also the chance that they have yet to strike. Anticipating that under normal circumstances, based on previous years’ experiences, this is the time when we see increases in non-dwelling burglaries, let us, together, anticipate this fact and work together to keep the district’s out-buildings and all the property within them safe and secure.
Enjoy your spring!
- At the time of writing (March 17, 2016) there have been 1,080 incidents for this month. It is projected that there will be 2,093 by the end of the month.
- Average number of crimes per day has increased from 19.4 to 21.0 (average number per day in the last 30 days as reported last month).
- Overall crimes for the month is currently 367 (the complete month is projected as being 683).
- Headline crimes (month to date) – 19 dwelling burglaries (projected 34 for the complete month), 30 vehicle crimes (projected 59 for the complete month), 4 robberies (projected 9 for the complete month), 29 non-dwelling burglaries (projected 50 for the complete month), and 98 offences of violence (projected 187 for the complete month).