A Statement from the Acting Police and Crime Commissioner re: Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s proposed changes to neighbourhood policing
October 29th, 2020
Following the Chief Constable’s announcement last week (Wednesday 21st October) regarding proposed changes to neighbourhood policing, I have received a number of views and concerns around the impact this may have in our communities.
As I have said before, legally it is the Chief’s responsibility to make decisions around his workforce. As your Commissioner, it is my responsibility to listen to your views and make sure the Chief has considered these.
I asked the Chief to formally update me on his workforce proposals at my Business Coordination meeting yesterday (Wednesday 28th October) and put those views and concerns I had received to him.
As the operational voice of policing in Cambridgeshire, and in order for everyone to understand further why he is proposing these changes, the Chief will be publishing his responses to a number of the concerns raised on Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s website.
I would like to clarify a number of the wider points discussed.
Firstly, regarding concerns about visibility of policing and neighbourhood policing.
Cambridgeshire already has the highest number of police officers it has ever had. Thanks to the Government’s uplift police officer recruitment programme, this year sees an additional 62 warranted police officers in Cambridgeshire and over the next two years we expect around a further 140 officers to join the force.
Neighbourhood policing is fundamental to the Chief Constable’s policing model and this is evidenced by the number of officers he has dedicated to it which will rise from 57 to 132.
This is not about choosing warranted officers over PCSOs, community safety officers or enquiry desks – the national funding for the new officers is ring-fenced for those officers only and not for police staff.
Every effort is being made to encourage those staff at risk to move into other roles, including retraining as police officers.
Secondly concerning the budget and the savings requirement.
This decision is not one that has been taken lightly. Every year, as with all public services, the resources across the whole organisation are taken into consideration – police demand changes, modernisation requires investment, and basic costs rise. This means difficult choices have to be made. Savings continue to be made in other areas of the Constabulary as well as police staff posts from office functions. This is not a choice anyone wants to make, but the budget has to balance.
Our county remains the 5th lowest in the country in terms of funding per head of population. This continues to put us at a significant disadvantage therefore both myself and the Chief Constable, along with other public service sector leaders, will continue to present the case nationally to Government.
Thirdly in respect of enquiry desks and contacting the police.
Whilst the Chief has announced the closure of nine enquiry desks, it is important to note that these have been selected on the basis of some already being effectively closed and others which are only open for very limited hours given the very low number of people visiting.
The police service is having to modernise all the time, and the investment in technology over the last few years has meant there are many ways of contacting the police, such as on-line, webchat, alongside the traditional telephone methods through 101 and 999. These have reduced the need for people to physically visit police stations but if they do want to, they can make appointments or use the external yellow phones for support.
The enquiry desks in the main stations in Cambridge and Peterborough (Parkside and Thorpe Wood) will continue to remain open as will the enquiry desk in Peterborough city centre.
I understand people’s concerns about what the closure of enquiry desks means and I have asked the Chief Constable for more information to be made available regarding this.
Finally, I want to reassure people that I will continue to raise any further concerns brought to my attention concerning this and monitoring the impact of these proposals in the coming months.
I want to end by saying how proud I am of the Chief Constable, his officers, staff and volunteers for the hard work they have put in to continuing to deliver such a professional service particularly over the last few months and keeping Cambridgeshire safe. These are unprecedented times but ones in which our Constabulary continues to meet the needs of the people of Cambridgeshire.