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Anti-social behaviour, equality in the workforce and under-age drinking were just a few of the issues raised at a special question and answer session hosted by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Chief Constable in Downham Market yesterday evening.
The event was the second of its kind to be held in the county as part of the Commissioner’s ongoing pledge to give the public access to the county’s senior officers while ensuring he and the wider police service are visible, accessible and accountable to all.
Downham Market Town Hall was the venue for the event which gave attendees the opportunity to find out about policing in their area, meet senior officers and raise their crime and policing concerns.
As well as getting an overview of police activity and priorities from the District Superintendent Dave Buckley, the meeting heard about changes to Norfolk’s policing model and the ongoing challenges and demands faced by the Force including fraud, online safety and road safety.
The PCC and Chief Constable also answered questions on a range of subjects including the recent rise in the policing element of Council Tax, speeding and motorists driving while using mobile phones, assaults on police officers, and ongoing work to assess the potential benefits of a change to fire governance in the county.
Residents heard from the Chief Constable how technology has led to “far greater” demands on the police service than ever before, particularly in areas of child abuse and grooming.
The meeting also heard how the PCC provides “vital funding” to vulnerable victims of crime in the county in areas including child abuse, sexual and domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation.
“I take enormous comfort and reward from this aspect of my job, helping people is the best part of my job,” said Lorne.
Addressing concerns around police budget cuts and the changing face of policing, Lorne said: “National statistics show we are one of the safest places in the country still…this police force has been rated one the of top police forces in the country for efficiency. They are doing more with less but we are trying to counter that by getting officers more kit such as drones and body-worn cameras.
“The nature of crime has changed, demand has gone up so we need a force fit for the future.”
Residents also had the opportunity to meet with local officers including PC Ben Clark, PC Richard Allan, Inspector Mark Cant, Inspector Mark Askham and West Norfolk’s Community Engagement Officer, PC Emily Carter.
Prior to the meeting, Lorne met with residents and local business owners in and around Downham Market to discuss their views on policing.
Last year, Lorne held seven Public Accountability Forum (PAF) meetings – one in each district – with the Chief Constable, each followed by a public Q&A session. For 2018, Lorne decided to split the two events – holding each PAF at police headquarters in Wymondham while taking the Q&A sessions ‘on tour’ across the county.
“As Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, it is important I listen to any concerns people may have about policing and my new-style question and answer sessions are a perfect platform in which to do so,” said Lorne.
“The Norfolk public has really bought into the Q&A events and it was good to hear from so many Downham Market residents. It was clear at the meeting that people feel very passionate about the area in which they live and work and I would like to thank all those who took the opportunity to come along.”
Over the course of the year, the PCC will be making his way around the county. The next event is scheduled to take place on Thursday 5 July 2018. Further information will be announced in due course.