More police to move into streets of Doncaster

More community police officers are to be brought into Doncaster's towns and villages

The final piece in a jigsaw which is aimed at bringing neighbourhood policing back to Doncaster is being put in place.

The changes, which will see officers put back into towns and villages, is being put in place in the Doncaster East district, months after it was rolled out in other areas of the borough.

And senior officers are optimistic it will help make residents feel safer.

The scheme, launched on Monday, means officers are being brought in to work in Thorne, Moorends, Stainforth, Hatfield and Armthorpe.

They will work with their communities and other public services to try to get to the heart of issues that are affecting residents and try to stop them in source. It involves moving officers from reactive work to community work to get to the root cause of the issues.

Similar moves have already been carried out in Doncaster Central, and in Doncaster West, after bosses decided to fast track the new system into place to deal with high profile problems such as antisocial behaviour in Doncaster town centre, and gangs operating in Mexborough.

From this week, the system is in place across the whole of the borough.

Last week, senior officers in Doncaster briefed the borough's MPs and councillors about the changes.

Doncaster police Supt Neil Thomas said: "We are in the process of rolling the staff out. The staff are identified and between now and January 2018, they will be moving into the neighbourhoods.

"They are going to be in Thorne, Moorends, Stainforth, Hatfield and Armthorpe. But if problems arise in other areas, we will divert officers to deal with that.

"There is a science to where they are being placed. We have looked at the areas that have the greatest requirement, built around anti-social behaviour, and crime levels, and the severity of incidents has also been taken into account. These have been put in to see the areas which have the highest requirement, and there has been a lot of rigour in the selection.

Doncaster Central began to see community policing last year, with officers moved to Hyde Park, Balby Bridge, Balby and Hexthorpe. Doncaster West followed early this year, with action around areas such as Mexborough, Conisbrough and Edlington.

The changes have also introduced officers dedicated to specific villages.

Every area of Doncaster will have its own neighbourhood police community support officer.

"Every area, irrespective of where it is in Doncaster, has its own PCSO. It is bringing back neighbourhood teams," said Supt Thomas.

He believes the approach has been successful so far where it has already been introduced, with the town centre an example.

Supt Thomas said: "We know from footfall and from market traders and businesses that the town centre has seen an improvement in antisocial behaviour, and in how the town centre feels. There is still more to be done, and we're working with the council on that. There is currently consultation on a Public Space Protection Order. But I have had market traders writing direct to me saying they have seen a difference since police came back. I'm confident that it's been a success.

"There are ongoing issues in Edlington and Mexborough, and some have the feeling it has got worse. I'm not naive enough to think that issues have disappeared, but I know from the statistics we see and the arrests that we've made that the area is getting better, and we are putting more staff into the community there."

Supt Thomas added there was still fine tuning going on where the new system was in place. The priority had been to get policemen in place, and now they were looking to improve on partnership working with other public agencies such as Doncaster Council officers and St Leger Homes staff.

He added the people of Doncaster East could expect to see more community involvement and community meetings with his officers to keep them informed of what is going on.

SIDEBAR ONE - HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

Community leaders the east of Doncaster say they are hoping the new arrangements will deter criminals.

Mayor of Stainforth, Lorraine Crosby, said the issue had been discussed by Stainforth Town Council, with opinions split on the merits of the changes.

She said: "It looks great, but we have had the police and crime commissioner saying there are not enough officers, and now we're getting neighbourhood policing.

"If it is going back to the old days, bring it on. The one thing that I hope is that we see Stainforth police station re-manned. I've noticed police cars there for the last two weeks, and I think that may deter people from causing trouble."

She added she hoped there would be regular meetings between the officers and the community to keep them informed.

"I hope they will look at the issue of nuisance bikers and scooters," she added.

Armthorpe Councillor Tony Corden was supportive of the scheme, and pleased to see action planned in his village. He hoped there would be more drop-in sessions in the village for people to speak to officers.

He said: "If we can get back to some sort of community policing, I would welcome that, because there is a lack of police bodies on the ground at this point in time. I think people feel safer if they see police on the streets."

SIDEBAR TWO: CHANGES HELPFUL BUT MORE TO DO

Coun Sean Gibbons, who chairs Mexborough's community engagement meetings with the police, still known locally as PACT meeting, believes the change in the town has been helpful since it come in earlier this year.

Mexborough was selected to be brought into the neighbourhood policing early because of concerns over gangs operating in the area, which led to a number of prosecutions last year.

"I've definitely noticed a change," Coun Gibbons said. "It is about what you see on the streets, and making Mexborough Police Station operational, where the car park now looks full. You see more officers on the streets now and this week we've had horses patrolling.

"It's good that we've got these but we need more of the public to report things.

"I would say at the moment that there is still a long way to go, and there are still challenges for the police. There are still ongoing issues.

"I think people largely feel safe, but there is room to deal with the gangs issue.

"PCSOs are getting to engage with local groups like the neighbourhood watches and the tenants and residents groups. People know who they are, rather than just ringing 101."

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