Every month approximately three hundred Cambridgeshire people are surveyed as part of the ‘Policing in Cambridgeshire (PiC) Local Engagement Survey’. Within Huntingdonshire, approximately sixty people are surveyed. Given the title of the survey, it will not be surprising to anyone that the survey’s purpose is to ascertain how satisfied (or otherwise) people are with their local policing service.
In general terms and across the whole of the county, public confidence, as measured by this survey, has stabilised over recent months; it remains statistically higher than last year. That stated, here, in Huntingdonshire, we have seen confidence rates fall in recent months; we have seen an increasing proportion of survey respondents say that the level of service provided by the police in the last six months is worse than it was before, and whilst every other local authority area within the county – South Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Cambridge City and Peterborough – puts more police presence at the top of the list of what people want from their police service, for Huntingdonshire, this is the second most important issue. Here, responding effectively to burglaries and thefts is number one.
Throughout the entire county and alongside these issues – an increased police presence and an effective response to burglaries and thefts – there are some other common themes that survey respondents want to see from their police service: they want to see their police tackling speeding, inconsiderate parking, alcohol and drug issues.
The fact that these matters are raised month after month; the fact that we police by consent – in this instance, using the survey as a means through which to identify community concerns that respondents are willing us to address – points to the conclusion that we definitely need to be doing something about them.
But, at a time when we are recording more violence against the person offences, driven, in the main, by violence without injury, and, at a time when the number of serious sexual offences, including rape offences, in the year ending March 2016 is significantly higher than last year – all issues that do not feature as issues raised by the survey respondents – how do the police reconcile all these and other issues, and, moreover, do so in a way that means that we are not only reconciling them, but, much more than that, responding to them and dealing with them in an efficient and effective manner?
Policing in 2016 is as challenging and as complex as it has ever been. The issues I have already outlined sit alongside others as diverse and myriad as counter terrorism, cybercrime, child abuse and domestic abuse. This is not an exhaustive list. Indeed, I could go on.
So where does that leave us?
Arguably, whilst more challenging and complex than at other times, the concept of prioritisation and ‘striking the right balance’ so as to deliver against multiple needs is not a new one. However, it is one that I have been contending with more so than at other times owing to the fact that we have just started a new financial year: a time when new force priorities have been introduced (emergency response, dwelling burglary, child abuse including child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, serious sexual offences and counter terrorism). For some reason, my contending with this concept has led me to the term, ‘Definitely Maybe’.
In August 1994 it was not only a term; it was the title of the fastest selling debut album. It was the product of the band, Oasis. This fact, I know, but, some limited research also informs me that ‘Definitely Maybe’ is a 2008 American romantic comedy-drama film. Not being the most ardent follower of music, I am surprised that my music knowledge is better than my film knowledge on this occasion!!
Away from albums; away from films, why is this term playing on my mind?
Well, here’s the point: we, the police, definitely need to be effectively, efficiently, legitimately and proportionately responding to a whole host of issues: matters ranging from community concerns through to policing priorities and issues of international security. Indeed, those matters outlined within this article; and, of course, others too.
Maybe, however, we need to re-think about how we go about delivering our response. Maybe, we would be more effective if we worked even more collaboratively with our partners; with local businesses and with local community members. Maybe, if we asked for help once in a while; for instance, asked good, interested people who care about their community to help us – to volunteer their services, to be members of our Special Constabulary, to raise awareness through their own circles as to how we can all better protect ourselves from being victims of crime – we could increase our capacity, reduce the demands placed on us, and, most importantly, create a safer district.
For a very long time we have sought to make our communities safer by working with others, but definitely – not maybe – we haven’t gone far enough; not nearly far enough.
If we take the village where I live, for instance: Stilton. There, as with other areas too, local people have been asked to help in making the roads safer. They have responded positively to this request; they have joined ‘Speedwatch’ and they have been undertaking speeding checks. I have seen them and they are definitely making a difference: definitely contributing to safer roads.
Key people within Stilton have also sought to address the inconsiderate parking outside that takes place immediately outside the local shops by having the double-yellow lines re-painted. Policing inconsiderate parking – one of the top concerns raised by the respondents of the ‘Policing in Cambridgeshire (PiC) Local Engagement Survey’ – has traditionally been a matter for the police, and, definitely, we have a role to play in addressing this particular community issue, but maybe, at the same time as playing our part – seeking to address the problem through our visible presence and the issuing of warning notices and tickets – we should also do more to highlight the simple fact that the people parking inconsiderately outside shops, schools and other amenities are local people; normally, people who live within metres, not miles, of the affected areas. That information, properly and appropriately highlighted, just maybe, might result in us all making the small but concerted effort not to inconsiderately park, and, as a consequence, just like those volunteers who are giving up their time to support initiatives such as ‘Speedwatch’ we would all be doing a bit to keep us all safer.
That definitely sounds like a good idea to me!!
- At the time of writing (13th APRIL 2016) there have been 1,018 incidents for this month. It is projected that there will be 2,545 by the end of the month.
- Average number of crimes per day has decreased from 21.0 to 20.9 (average number per day in the last 30 days as reported last month).
- Overall crimes for the month is currently 230 (the complete month is projected as being 606).
- Headline crimes (month to date) – 12 dwelling burglaries (projected 28 for the complete month), 20 vehicle crimes (projected 52 for the complete month), 4 robbery (projected 8 for the complete month), 11 non-dwelling burglaries (projected 34 for the complete month), and 68 offences of violence (projected 172 for the complete month).