It has been a year of change in how we police Doncaster – but we now have plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future.
During 2018, we have changed the structures to make sure we are more proactive than we may have been historically.
We have seen the return of a CID department based in Doncaster, rather than operating as a centralised South Yorkshire team.
It means we have local ownership and therefore crime investigation in Doncaster can be more flexibly managed. We’ve also now created four tasking teams who proactively intervene to manage and reduce the activities of organised crime groups.
It has been successful. We’ve seen a considerable decrease in the activity of crime groups in Doncaster particularly in Mexborough. The tasking teams completed over 100 warrants against organised crime group members and seized hundreds of thousands of pounds in drugs and cash in 2018 but there is still much to be done and this work will continue in 2019.
The work with our partners has also developed including agencies such as Doncaster Council, St Leger Homes, the NHS and the Probation Service, and they have contributed significantly.
With the reintroduction of the Police neighbourhood teams, the partnership work has been about tackling community problems from different angles. For example when we recently worked in an area of Doncaster, the council teams undertook street cleaning work, and removed graffiti. Trading standards officers completed test purchases at licensed premises for alcohol, whilst the NHS did health screening. Together with the police enforcement activity, this partnership approach ensured we addressed communities issues from a variety of perspectives.
The work we are doing also includes going into school to talk to children about antisocial behaviour, so that they understand some of the issues. It helps them understand that rowdy groups of young people on the street can be intimidated for older people, which they may not realise. We have completed presentations to over 600 school children about the signs of child criminal exploitation, and the dangers of getting involved in gangs
It is about improving an area with a rounded response and as a result we have seen a fall in reports of crime and antisocial behaviour. There has been a 12 per cent fall in the number of incidents reported in 2018 compared to the previous year.
The effects of this partnership approach are most evident in the town centre where there are now only 14 known people begging and sleeping rough in the town centre – it was 67 three months ago.
Taking a more preventive / problem solving approach means demand for the police is starting to reduce.
But we are also set to receive extra resources.
South Yorkshire Police is going to take on an extra 40 officers, and 20 of those are due to come to Doncaster.
Taking this together with the work we have done to reduce demand, I’m confident that we will be able to provide an improving service. We are starting 2019 in a healthier position that we have been for several years.
We have doubled the size of our neighbourhood teams, and 17 of the 20 new posts will be put into the neighbourhood teams. I’m hoping this will mean a more visible police presence, so we can tackle the problems that matter to people and allow us to develop a trusting and engaging relationship with our communities.
The other three new officers will work with the prisons investigations team. We have started a new prison partnership board to work together with other organisations like the Prisons, Probation Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. We will be training prison service personnel in techniques such as crime scheme preservation and taking statements. This will provide great assistance to our staff and significantly increase the capacity we have to deal with the investigations and demand generated by the prisons.
Nine of the top 10 locations for crime have seen a substantial reduction in calls for the police. The only one that has not done is the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, and we are looking to create a bespoke way to address issues there. Discussions are ongoing.
Overall the structures we are developing will mean that the police take a more problem solving and preventative approach to tackling crime and this has started to reduce demand. As our resources are also to increase for the first time in several years, I am optimistic about the future and hope that we can increasingly deliver a good service for the people of Doncaster during the next twelve months..