Warwickshire and West Mercia police have announced changes to local policing services to 745,000 households across the area from today (Monday).
As a result of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review the forces are required to identify £30.3 million in savings by 2015.
The new policing model is designed to deliver the maximum protection possible to communities throughout Warwickshire and West Mercia.
All areas will continue to be served by a locally based, dedicated Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) comprising police officers, police community support officers (PCSOs) and special police constables.
Their primary role will continue to be to work with local people and partners to identify, tackle and solve issues of day-to-day crime and anti-social behaviour.
• Across Warwickshire there are 33 SNTs
• Across West Mercia there are 82 SNTs
• Over 600 special constables will support SNTs across both forces
Managed by a police sergeant, each SNT will include one police constable and two PCSOs.
Thirty SNTs in areas of high demand (defined on the basis of reported crime, incident levels and community need) will have two police officers and four PCSOs. One of these PCSOs will be based at a local school as part of the forces’ Safer Schools Programme.
Response officers operating from 14 patrol bases across Warwickshire and West Mercia will also support Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
An important element of the changes being announced is an extension to the powers of and hours worked by PCSOs. In future their additional powers will allow them to play a greater role in tackling harm caused by drugs and alcohol and they will be allowed to patrol later in the evening. Experience suggests quality of life issues such as anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and graffiti most commonly affect people and SNTs are trained to tackle and solve these issues.
The forces are also making a commitment to make SNTs and response officers as visible and accessible as possible including reducing the time they spend travelling to and from their operational base.
In future they will be able to spend more time on patrol thanks to investment in mobile technology. 67 TETRATABS (a mobile tablet style computer) are being introduced which, using the latest technology, will allow SNT teams to remotely access information and complete paperwork on the go. Each SNT will be also be equipped with a Blackberry and three mobile police stations will be introduced to rural communities in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire whilst Warwickshire will use four mobile stations (two of which are privately funded).
The forces also remain committed to seeking the views of and engaging with the communities that the SNTs serve. In future each SNT will be promoting their work and responding to local people’s comments via dedicated Twitter accounts.
Detailed SNT information relevant to local areas will be available on
www.safer-neighbourhoods.co.uk (Warwickshire) and
www.westmercia.police.uk/saferneighbourhoods/ (West Mercia)
The more formal PACT and Community Forum meetings will continue to be held.
Gareth Morgan, Assistant Chief Constable at Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police said: “Safer Neighbourhood Teams form the foundation to local policing in Warwickshire and West Mercia. They are very successful in protecting the public from harm. Retaining 333 PCSOs, extending their powers and hours, alongside the support of over 600 special constables, will deliver a visible presence to the communities they serve.
Our significant investment in mobile technology will enable more intelligence led patrolling, providing our communities with a more accessible and responsive service.”
Ron Ball, Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire said: “Local policing plays a crucial role in all aspects of protecting the public in Warwickshire. I’m a great supporter of the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) model which is why I pledged to support it in my manifesto. Given the ever tightening financial constraints imposed on us I’m delighted that our alliance with West Mercia has produced savings enabling us to keep-and indeed strengthen our SNT teams. Together with the enhanced powers and working hours for PCSOs, and the continuing recruitment of special constables we are fully exploiting the value of the alliance and demonstrating what two independent forces working together can achieve.”
Bill Longmore, West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “People told me during my election campaign that local policing is an important way of maintaining or increasing public reassurance, and it is high on my agenda. These changes to the teams, alongside better use of technology and extended powers and hours of PCSOs, will ensure that officers are visible and easily accessible within communities, despite the significant reduction in police funding.”