More Officers Needed For Dedicated Neighbourhood Policing

New training for neighbourhood policing is all well and good, but it won’t help until there are more bobbies on the beat and officers aren’t having to fill gaps in other teams.

The College of Policing is piloting new training that it says “will transform neighbourhood policing, providing the public with local policing that listens to and understands their needs”.

But Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “Over the years of austerity, a lot of forces haven’t been able to do neighbourhood policing because they’ve just not had enough people.

“We’ve always maintained neighbourhood policing in Hampshire, but our neighbourhood officers are also used to fill in the gaps on response teams. So they can’t fully do their neighbourhood engagement role, because they spend a lot of time helping out their response colleagues.

“This new training might be really, really good, but unless you’ve got dedicated neighbourhood teams that do only that, it’s just a waste of time. It’s down to the age-old problem: there just aren’t enough officers. We haven’t got enough officers on our response teams and so we have to take from everywhere else to fill the gaps.”

Zoë added that, done properly, community policing was invaluable in investigations.

She explained: “Proper engagement with the community is a real source of intel, because people talk and say things like: ‘Joe down the road gets lots of visitors to his house on a Wednesday’. If the neighbourhood officers aren’t out and about in their communities then they’re not going to get that intel, and they don’t get to know the people.

“It used to be the case that somebody committed a crime, you’d speak to a beat officer and they’d say: ‘That’s likely to be so and so, that’s his modus operandi, he’s done that before’. You wouldn’t get that now because those officers haven’t been given the opportunity to really build up that local knowledge of their communities.”

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