How police will get to the issues in your Doncaster community quicker: Police column

I have been in post now as neighbourhoods and partnership Chief Inspector in Doncaster for three months., writes

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 7:24 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 5:34 pm

Before that I worked all over the force in a variety of roles.

My first impression of Doncaster is that it is a town of proud, decent, hard-working honest people, who care deeply about their communities and are committed to improving them.

It is a town that already has some very good partnership arrangements between organisations and public services. The police officers and partner agencies who work in Doncaster are energised and want to make a difference.

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Chief Inspector Andy Hunt at Doncaster Police Station
Chief Inspector Andy Hunt at Doncaster Police Station

I see my goal as strengthening these relationships and improving public confidence in policing. I want to improve public engagement with the police.

One of the ways in doing this is by listening to the public and quickly acting on what they tell us and then inform the communities what we have done about their concerns.

This is why we have changed the format in most of our communications to a “you said.. we did” format. The feedback we have had has been great so far.

It crucial that our communities have trust and confidence in our ability to act on their concerns. A great example of this is the activity with the town centre with our partners lead by Inspector Lynne Lancaster.

Over the past 12 months the main town centre priority has been anti-social behaviour and begging. We have worked really hard to improve the safety of the town centre and grip the spice problem.

We have dedicated significant numbers of policing resources working with our partners to achieve this and over the last 12 months we have made over 400 arrests in the town centre alone and drastically reduced antisocial behaviour and drug use.

The increase in hours spent dedicated to the area has resulted in over 400 arrests by the town centre team since September 2019 and on average resulted in an improvement of an additional 18 hours a day police visibility compared to before the introduction of the funding.

We have recorded 6,500 engagements with named individuals, assisting those genuinely vulnerable into services in conjunction with our partners at the council and Complex Lives team and have been successful at court in obtaining seven criminal behaviour orders (CBO’s) that have been pivotal in managing the anti-social behaviour of those people who have refused to accept support and continued to offend

I am firmly committed to continuing with our high visibility policing and engagements in the town centre and other areas of Doncaster. Put simply, high visibility policing works. I aim to increase the number of police officers in neighbourhood roles by 17 officers this year which is a significant uplift.

In the next couple of weeks, we're going to be rolling out a new way for the public to tell us about problems in their local area.

This is a new part of the community alert scheme. Traditionally when we have done surveys of local areas to find out what issues are concerning people, there has been a lag of a couple of months before we have been able to collate and analyse all the results. We also tend to find we get a demographic of between 25 to 60 who respond. Sometimes, by the time we have those results, the issues have changed.

At the moment we have almost 6,000 people signed up for Community alerts, and that is a number that we want to increase. You can sign up for them on the South Yorkshire Police website. We will be using those to send details to people of how they can complete surveys of their local areas.

The idea is that people will be able to tell us exactly what their concerns in an electronic survey. You will even be able to stick a pin in a map on the survey to show us exactly where the problem is.

We think with the new system, results should be available in just a few days. This means we will be able to act quicker on local problems.

People taking part will have a drop box, so we get real time updates and can get a quick response.

The technology we’re investing in also has a translate facility, so people in communities which do not have English as their first language can raise issues more easily. We will be able to target under represented communities and engage with them.

If the public thinks something is important, it is important that we act. And when we do, we would expect priorities to change over time as we listen and act. The first of the new surveys is likely to be for the town centre.

I’m also looking to strengthen partnerships with other public services particularly health and education so that we can catch issues and intervene earlier.