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TVP Consultation on Local Policing Proposals

Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

Thames Valley Police (TVP) is asking residents for feedback on its review into the structure of local policing areas.

We encourage residents to participate in the survey. Active participation will make the point that we care about local policing, and retaining and rebuilding a local presence.

Take the survey

TVP’s proposals

Two proposals are presented, which are explained in detail on the TVP website:

In brief, the models under consideration are:

  • A continuation of the current 11 Local Policing Area (LPA) model, but with enhancements where possible; within this structure, we are currently part of the South Buckinghamshire LPA. ​
  • A five-area command model; Buckinghamshire would be one area, alongside Oxfordshire, Berkshire West, Berkshire East and Milton Keynes.

The explanations for the proposed changes point to the need to adapt to an increasingly complex environment, citing in particular the rises in digital crime, child sexual exploitation and county drugs lines. Throughout the proposals, it promises that changes will not be to the detriment of neighbourhood policing; in fact, strengthening of neighbourhood policing is stated as one of the key aims.

Whether the five-area model is adopted, or the current structure retained, the review promises that the current 108 neighbourhoods and their teams will be retained. We regard this promise as essential.

The need to retain and strengthen Neighbourhood Teams

Public approval is needed to underpin the ‘Policing by Consent’ principle behind British policing. The trust and confidence of communities is maintained through local accountability and demonstrable impartiality. One of the promises of Sir Mark Rowley in addressing the problems of the Metropolitan Police is “…the strongest ever neighbourhood policing. Community Policing is the Met’s foundation – we are a local police service.” Source: speech at Institution of Technology and Engineering, January 10th 2023. Neighbourhood teams are the critical interface between policing and public, and here in Thames Valley and Buckinghamshire, we need to see them retained and where possible, strengthened.

Our present area, South Buckinghamshire, includes the eight neighbourhoods covered by the Forum:

  • Amersham
  • Chalfonts
  • Missendens
  • Beaconsfield
  • Chesham
  • Denham & Gerrards Cross
  • Burnham, Farnhams & Taplow
  • Iver Stoke Poges & Wexham.

‘Urban’ Wycome is divided into Wycombe East, Wycome South and Wycombe West. Additionally, there are neighbourhoods covering Marlow, Princes Risborough and Chepping Wye.

Thames Valley Police LPA operating model
Within the context of a proposal for ‘local’ policing, it is important to understand where ‘neighbourhood policing’ sits. Graphic showing the position and role of our Neighbourhood teams (in blue) within the current structure. They are one part of the policing jigsaw within South Buckinghamshire Local Policing Area (greyed area). Other teams focus on response and investigation.

One doesn’t have to dip very far into various social media platforms to find residents expressing dissatisfaction about law and order in their neighbourhoods. However, there are also many voices of support, and over the past 5 years of interaction with our local teams, we have seen our officers and PCSOs strive to deliver for residents despite resource constraints.

The latest TVP Neighbourhood Policing newsletters for all the South Buckinghamshire neighbourhoods can be accessed from links on our Home page.

Promises for Neighbourhood Policing

The promises for Neighbourhood Policing include the following:

  • Maintaining the same number of geographic neighbourhood teams but enhancing the numbers of officers within them.
  • Bringing in 80 additional neighbourhood officers, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner (mathematically, fewer than one per neighbourhood team).
  • The possibility of converting some current vacancies in PCSO roles into police officer posts dedicated to supporting neighbourhood policing.
  • Trialling a new PCSO Supervisor role, seeking to improve PCSO retention though offering career progression as well as enhanced support and job satisfaction to PCSOs.
  • Within the 5-area model, the possibility that Sergeants may become more available for frontline response and support of new officers.

The five-area command model would, the review states, allow for additional resourcing (20 officers) to work with schools, and to work with partners on mental health (10 officers). In both models, it proposes creation of a new Harm Reduction unit, and creation of officer posts dedicated to obtaining and managing protection orders that support victims of crime such as stalking and domestic abuse, but it says that these would be better resourced under the five-command model.

No explicit promises are made on response times – further modelling of response times under a five-area model is said to be ongoing, with the goal of maintaining current response times and making improvements where possible.

Express your view, show you care

Our conclusions are that residents should, if at all possible, add their voice to the survey. And since the proposals make clear that TVP believes it can achieve more with the five-area model, we should express a preference for this. However, we would encourage residents to use the comments facility to make very clear that they expect TVP to be good to its word in delivering additional resource to Neighbourhood Policing.

Did you know? TVP held an online consultation in January 2021 on the planned closure of Police stations. Our understanding is that the consultation attracted just 74 responses – which the then Chief Constable said in a ‘Facebook Live’ session, demonstrated that the public wasn’t unduly concerned by the closures. Whether or not you are sceptical that your neighbourhood will really be impacted positively, this underlines the importance of taking the opportunity to show you care.

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