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The EDP says: Force is right to change but it must not come at a cost

PUBLISHED: 17:07 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:44 23 October 2017

Norfolk Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey is right to push for reform of the force to make it fit for the demands of the 21st century.

In fact, thanks to his role as national lead for child protection and investigation, he probably knows more than most about how the nature of crime has changed in the past decade.

In Norfolk alone, so-called safeguarding and investigation crime has risen by a staggering 357%.

This includes crimes such as rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse and child abuse. All of them are appalling, but equally all of them are complex and time-consuming to resolve.

MORE: Norfolk Police scraps PCSOs, closes seven stations and shuts front desks in radical reform

It is absolutely right, therefore, that the teams established to solve these crimes are grown as much in line with the increase as possible.

However, today’s announcement will leave many wondering at what cost this has come.

Are we now in a situation where finance is so tight, resource so stretched, that traditional community-based police work is no longer possible?

Will more low-level crimes (but still important to those impacted) now have to go uninvestigated and unpunished?

Will we lose the reasuring sight of the bobby on the beat?

These are some of the questions that will be on the lips of people throughout the county today.

Only yesterday fears were raised that a natioanl increase in shoplifting was down to reduced police resources.

We do not want to see that sort of headline in Norfolk, a county which prides itself on low crime rates.

The good work that has gone on to gain the county that reputation must not be undone.

It’s important to make clear that in many ways the chief constable’s hands are tied.

Faced with increased financial pressures and reduced budgets something has to give.

Even the 1% police pay increase, rightfully earned by those who do an amazing job, has come at a cost with some of the police provision in Norfolk’s schools now having to be lost.

In an ideal world Norfolk Police would no doubt prefer to have the ability to increase its capacity to solve serious crime and keep community policing levels high.

But to do that takes cash, which is why it’s vital the force, the police crime commissioner, MPs, public and ourselves continue to lobby the government for a bigger slice of the pie, no matter what comes out of this latest proposal.

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