Importance Of Neighbourhood Policing

Neighbourhood policing officers have a vital role in keeping communities safe, picking up intelligence and building trust in the public, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

Chair Zoë Wakefield was speaking during Neighbouhood Policing Week (22-26 January). She said: “Neighbourhood policing is so important, because a lot of the time they are the face of the police that the public see. They are the ones that are out and about in the communities, they are the ones that local people will recognise.”

Zoë said that during austerity, some forces got rid of neighbourhood policing altogether, and although Hampshire Constabulary didn’t, the function was “massively watered down”.

She continued: “When I was working on neighbourhoods, I had members of the public on my patch saying, ‘I haven’t seen a police officer or a PCSO for six months’, and I had to say to them, ‘That’s good, because we’re having to put our resources where the issues are. If you’re not seeing resources, it means there’s not a lot going on where you live’. But people want that reassurance.

“Hopefully, as numbers get back up to what they should be, we can start putting police officers back into the communities, as we’re not having to suck them all out to where the issues are.”

Neighbourhood policing officers fulfiled a variety of purposes, Zoë said: “They pick up so much intelligence about what’s going on. They go into schools so the kids get to relate to a police officer, which builds that relationship, that confidence in the police, from a young age.

“Neighbourhood officers are also able to look out for the elderly and vulnerable people on their patch because they get to know that area so well. They know all the problem people, they know the vulnerable people, they know the helpful people. They can identify people from CCTV images. They know their stuff.”

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