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Residents and local business owners gathered in Thetford yesterday evening to air their views on crime and policing at the latest question and answer session hosted by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green.
The event, held at The Bell Hotel in King Street gave attendees the opportunity to ask the PCC and Chief Constable Simon Bailey any questions or raise any concerns about policing in their area.
Joining Lorne and the Chief Constable on the panel were Chief Inspector Amie Abbs and Gavin Thompson, Director of Policy and Commissioning at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN).
Regular Q&A events are part of PCC Lorne Green’s 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.
The event was the first to be held by the PCC in 2020 following on from the six Q&As hosted across the county in 2019.
Getting an overview of police activity and priorities from Chief Inspector Amie Abbs the meeting heard how there had been a fall in anti-social behaviour year on year since 2015/16 when 2,906 incidents were reported compared to 2,062 incidents in 2018/19.
Attendees heard how the number of overall crimes in the area had risen from 9,488 in 2017/18 to 10,054 in 2018/19 with the most significant increases being in arson and criminal damage (1081 to 1135), drug offences (336 to 427) and bike theft (78 to 104).
Chief Insp Abbs told the meeting how proactive measures were being put in place to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.
“Crime has risen across the district for a number of reasons,” she added. “We’ve worked hard as an organisation to improve the recording of crimes and encourage people to have the confidence to come to us.
“I’d like to thank members of the public who have reported suspicious behaviour to the police which is something we can act upon.”
Chief Insp Abbs also highlighted the work of the area Neighbourhood Policing Team who have also been working with the area drugs unit to disrupt those intent on committing such crime in the district.
Speaking prior to the meeting Lorne Green, said: “These events provide a unique opportunity for people to address their questions, concerns and ideas directly to the people in charge of the county’s policing service – something the Norfolk public has really welcomed.
“As Norfolk’s PCC, it is important I continue to listen and take on board the feedback people have about policing in the county. It’s public input like that which helps me fulfil the different responsibilities which come with my role – including setting the county’s Police and Crime Plan, providing victim support services and holding our police force to account on behalf of the communities it serves.”
Members of the PCC’s Youth Commission also attended the meeting and discussed positive ways how to address anti-social behaviour involving young people in the area.
Prior to the meeting Lorne met with local businesses and residents in the town including in the Cannon’s Walk area and visited The Benjamin Foundation and the teamroom run by local charity Access.
“I’ve had a really constructive day here in Thetford,” added Lorne.
“I’m impressed down to the ground with the the work of the voluntary sector in this area. You should all be very proud of the work you do.”
The event also provided a final opportunity for Norfolk residents to take part in the PCC’s annual budget consultation which closes today (Friday 17 January).
The PCC launched the month-long public consultation on 16 December to find out whether people would be willing to pay more council tax to help build a safer and more resilient Norfolk.
A survey has been running online at www.norfolk-pcc.gov.uk, with the PCC also spending time in each of the county’s districts to gather views from residents.