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The Force is with Neighbourhoods

Police officer and PCSO in Darlington

PC and PCSO in Darlington

Durham Constabulary’s continued commitment to neighbourhood policing has been hailed by the watchdog responsible for monitoring the performance of the UK’s 43 forces.

The force was one of six reviewed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) following its “Policing in Austerity” report which suggested financial constraints were leading some forces to focus on response and volume crime investigation rather than on community policing.  

HM Inspector, Roger Baker, said that despite facing financial challenges the force remains committed to having identifiable officers designated to local neighbourhoods and continues to both engage with communities and work with partner agencies and organisations to address any issues of concern.

Mr Baker added: “During our inspection we heard a real commitment to neighbourhood policing from everyone we spoke with, ranging from the police and crime commissioner (PCC) to front-line staff.”

In response to the effects of the Government’s spending review on its budget, the force restructured in 2011 and since then has continued to maintain numbers of officers designated to the role.

Mr Baker highlighted the benefits achieved through the use of social media by neighbourhood policing teams which enhances their visibility and enables direct engagement with the public.

He acknowledged that the force engages with its communities on a number of levels to identify and tackle concerns as they arise and cited the attendance of senior officers at key community meetings and one of the largest Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the country as effective engagement methods.

The force’s innovative approach to the development of Police and Communities Together (PACT) meetings was also singled out for praise. With more than 170 meetings conducted each month, the force is leading the way with its “light” reaching people who might otherwise have gone unheard.

HMIC was also impressed by Durham Constabulary’s strong focus on problem solving, discretion and the use of restorative justice as methods to effectively address problems in a way that has community support. Mr Baker noted the force’s problem-orientated partnership (POP) awards event, which showcases projects which have successfully addressed local issues, is used to celebrate that work.

In terms of reducing crime and instilling confidence in its communities, neighbourhood teams not only focus on addressing local priorities, but also play a key role in contributing to the wider objectives of the force, working towards achieving policing priorities set by PCC Ron Hogg.

Head of the force’s neighbourhood command, Chief Superintendent Ivan Wood, said: “Neighbourhood policing is at the heart of Durham Constabulary’s service delivery and we are committed to maintaining dedicated staff in those roles and finding innovative ways to enhance that service. We hope this ensures people in our communities are confident they are receiving the service they expect and deserve. We are totally committed to tackling the problems that cause concern for people in Co Durham and Darlington, from organised crime to dog fouling.”

Mr Hogg said: "I have frequent meetings with the chief constable and his executive team, not only to monitor performance and value for money, but also about how the police continue to engage with our communities. It is evident that Durham Constabulary is committed to neighbourhood policing and I am heartened that this has been recognised during the HMIC inspection."

Posted on Friday 9th May 2014
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