PCC shines light on rural policing at Stoke Ferry eventNorfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, was invited to speak at an event organised by the Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society on Friday. This is what he had to say:
"It is my absolute honour and privilege to address you this evening as your Police and Crime Commissioner. I am proud to serve as the PCC for our wonderful county and to represent every man, woman and child when it comes to policing and criminal justice in Norfolk.
"As your PCC, I am responsible for drawing up a Police and Crime Plan for our county, setting out how we will work together over the next four years – maybe longer, who knows – to tackle and prevent crime and disorder in Norfolk, protect the most vulnerable and support victims.
"I also have the burden of setting the amount that we all pay for policing through our Council Tax. That is the worst part of a job which is otherwise filled with rewarding and exciting opportunities.
"During my campaign to be elected Norfolk’s PCC, I made a pledge to the people of this great county that I would listen to their crime and policing concerns and tackle the issues affecting our communities. One of my first acts as PCC was to launch a major consultation exercise lasting two months to really get a sense of what matters to people when it comes to crime and policing.
"I met with residents across the length and breadth of our county, from our urban centres to our most rural locations, and what struck me was that many of the issues which matter most to our rural communities are not actually unique to them.
"Yes, there are some crime types which are more prevalent in rural areas and bring unique challenges for policing – farm and agricultural crime, for example, or hunting and game sports – but for many rural residents their concerns are not that different from those of residents anywhere else in the county.
"They want the police to be visible in their local area as this helps them feel safe and reassured.
"They want their police service to engage with their community so that they feel connected rather than isolated.
"And they want to know that the police will be there when they need them, and feel confident to report crime, knowing they will get an effective response.
"But while these concerns may not be unique, the way we work to address them needs to be. Our county’s geography and the demands of policing a rural landscape mean a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not fit the bill.
"When it comes to rural crime, your police force and your PCC are on it like never before." Norfolk PCC Lorne Green
"I have listened to these crime and policing concerns, and to what people want and need from their police service to feel safer living or working in our rural areas. We are fortunate in this county to have one of the finest police forces in the country. Don’t take my word for it, the Force’s most recent inspection reports speak for themselves.
"However, when it comes to policing rural areas I know we can do better, and that is why I pledged to take up people’s concerns and work with police, partners and communities to drive forward Norfolk’s approach to tackling rural crime. To be frank, when I launched my campaign for election, there were some who gave me gratuitous advice not to spend too much time campaigning in rural areas. After all, they said, the greatest harvest of votes was to be had in the urban areas of Norfolk.
"I wanted actions not just words. In November, I organised a Rural Crime Summit at Anglia Farmers' headquarters and brought together representatives from key organisations whose lives and livelihoods are based in our rural areas. We invited farmers, experts in our shared heritage, police and crime specialists, landowners, countryside representatives and many, many more.
"Views were heard and shared, honest opinions were given and taken on board but, crucially, it was clear everyone present was pulling in the same direction.
"I wanted greater recognition of the impact of crime in our rural areas – both the unique challenges and shared concerns. One thing I am certain about is that, like most criminal activity, rural crime is no respecter of borders or boundaries, and the challenges facing us here in Norfolk are not unique to us. Therefore, it seemed to me quite incredible that Norfolk was not a member of the National Rural Crime Network. It simply made no sense.
"One of my first actions when taking office was to change all that. This county is now a proud partner and active member of the network. With that in mind, I was particularly pleased to welcome to the Rural Crime Summit my colleague and fellow PCC Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire. Julia is chairman of the National Rural Crime Network. If we are really serious about tackling rural crime and addressing rural issues, I believe we cannot work in isolation so I also announced at the summit that the PCCs of Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire would be signing a Rural Crime Concordat, which saw us all join together to pledge to work together to tackle rural crime.
"Norfolk Constabulary used the summit to launch a newly revitalised Rural Policing Strategy with a clear focus on prevention, intelligence, enforcement and reassurance. The main challenges and ‘core business’ areas were outlined. These included protecting vulnerable and isolated people in rural areas, farm and agricultural crime, wildlife and heritage crime, hunting and game sports, road safety – and much more.
"A Community Rural Advisory Group was established, increased rural engagement was promised, intelligence-led high visibility patrols were increased and a bespoke, rural crime prevention approach was introduced by Detective Constable Andy Brown.
"All very well, you might say, but what difference has it actually made?
"Before the launch, Operation Randall (the name for the rural crime fighting operation in Norfolk) had a newsletter which was received by 70 people. Today, it is received by nearly 2,000 and growing – and we want many more subscribers. It is crucial information is shared, feedback given and advice is given with our rural community – this is key.
- We now have a team of 23 Special Constables led by a Chief Inspector focused on dealing with rural crime.
- We have Special Constabulary Horse and Quad Bike Teams
- There are 20 wildlife officers working across the Force, developing their knowledge base
- The Force is working in partnership with the National Wildlife Crime Unit
- In 2013, Norfolk reported 71 ‘wildlife crimes’ to NWCU – in 2016 it was 25
- Op Galileo – the Force’s operation against Hare Coursing – goes from strength to strength. Since October 2016, there have been 18 arrests under Op Galileo, 16 charged in court, 10 convictions and 29 Lurcher dogs seized.
- Raves have fallen from 51 in 2007 to 11 last year
- We are currently developing an initiative to protect our church roofs, targeting the cowardly attacks on our shared heritage. With thefts are up from 24 in 2014 to 30 last year, this is an area of concern for me personally.
- We now have ‘barnstorming’ sessions for any member of the rural community to attend and have their say on rural matters.
- Through Police Connect, our police are now able to reach 15,000 people in Norfolk and Suffolk.
"Norfolk is working with forces in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire on four joint operations in 2017 with each county committing resources to target rural crime.
"But there is more to do. One clear theme from the Rural Crime Summit was that the police need to hear from the rural community – but some members of the rural community did not think it was worth contacting the police.
"My plea to you is that if you are a victim of crime, or know someone who is a victim of crime please contact the police. As you know, it’s 999 for emergencies, 101 for non-emergencies, there is Crimestoppers to report anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Norfolk Police website - www.norfolk.police.uk
"Together we can, and will, make a difference."