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Green Shoots for Policing in our Neighbourhoods?

Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

The Government is trumpeting that it has rebuilt Police Officer numbers to above the previous record levels seen in 2010. But have we felt this at local and neighbourhood level?

Recent proposals by UK Government, Thames Valley Police (TVP) and Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) may indicate a turning point in support for communities. All make promises of increased resources for Neighbourhood Policing and greater focus on neighbourhood crime.

If successful, the first two are likely to yield results sooner and more visibly than the Government’s high-level review. But the latter is important: many residents may be unaware of the extent of the work undertaken by the Buckinghamshire Community Safety Partnership. This is a formal partnership involving Buckinghamshire Council, Fire and Rescue Services, Buckinghamshire Integrated Care Board, the National Probation Servic, Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner..

The preamble to the UK Government consultation states: “We know that effective partnership working is vital to reducing crime and disorder and ASB. As multi-agency partnerships, CSPs are an essential mechanism operating in local areas… The organisations represented within a CSP… are responsible for many of the levers needed to address the drivers of crime and ASB. They can identify and understand the problems of their community and work together to find solutions.”

There’s nothing new in this – CSPs were introduced in 1998. The thrust of the Government’s latest plan seems to be to align the work of CSPs and PCCs more closely, with greater integration and accountability. This may see PCCs in a stronger position to bring partners together on ASB, and to direct local ASB strategy. This seems appropriate to us.

Buckinghamshire’s latest Community Safety Plan, the guiding document for the Partnership, will be considered and approved by the Council’s Cabinet in May. Its core priorities for 2023-2026 are:

  • Neighbourhood Crime
  • Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Serious Violence
  • Violence against Women and Girls
  • Exploitation of Vulnerable People

Both the TVP force review and the PCC’s Crimefighters strategy promise increased numbers of Neighbourhood Policing officers, within an increased focus on crime prevention.

The TVP force review promises to maintain the current 108 geographic neighbourhood teams. It says it will bring in 80 additional neighbourhood officers, funded by the PCC. Within the teams, it will consider converting some current vacancies in PCSO roles into police officer posts, whilst also taking steps to improve PCSO retention.

The PCC’s strategy promises allocation of 150 additional officers to neighbourhood policing roles over 2023/24, and “the beginning of a shift which will continue to demonstrate the growing role of community policing within the force.”

We review the TVP force review in greater detail in our post of 11th April: https://www.csb-forum.org/tvp-consultation-on-local-policing-proposals/ We repeat our encouragement to residents to participate in the survey, up to April 28th.

Over the next 18 months, we hope to see evidence of these promises. One way of following this is through the newsletters of our Neighbourhood Policing teams. Our Home page has links to the latest newsletters of all neighbourhood teams across Chiltern & South Bucks, including details of team members.

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