Positive policing at Cromer Carnival after unrest last year
PUBLISHED: 18:30 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:19 22 August 2018
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015
Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey is pleased with how the force policed this year's Cromer carnival
This time last year the implications of the disorder in Cromer were just starting to become clear. During the course of the next few days and weeks I, and the rest of my force, did our level best to regain the confidence of the community who felt badly let down.
I listened intently to everyone I spoke to; apologised for our mistakes and made it very clear that the disorder of the previous weekend would never be repeated. I also commissioned a review to understand where we had failed the communities of Cromer and the surrounding villages.
We learned some serious lessons from that weekend and over the past few months many of my officers and staff have worked hard with our partners and local communities to ensure that the events of last year were not repeated. I am pleased to be able to say that Cromer carnival week this year has been a great success and over the weekend there were no incidents of serious disorder, an important step on our journey to rebuilding confidence.
Another challenge we have faced recently has been our response to rural crime and retaining the confidence of our farming community. With the isolated nature of their businesses and the expensive equipment required, sadly they are often repeated victims of crime which a recent spike in offences in Breckland and West Norfolk has demonstrated.
In response I have met with a number of farmers and given them my personal commitment to tackle this threat head on. We are already seeing some positive results. In the last few weeks we have made a significant number of arrests and recovered a large amount of stolen property. It was also pleasing to see that recent figures published by the National Farmers Union show that Norfolk has seen the biggest reduction in the value of claims, linked to thefts, of any force recorded in their 2016/17statistics.
Preventing and detecting crime can be harder in rural areas; with fewer people around there is less likely to be witnesses or established CCTV networks and criminals will take advantage of isolated properties and businesses.
Rural policing is a core part of our business and something we’ve prioritised for many years through Operation Randall, a specific campaign launched in 2010 aimed at tackling rural crime and in particular protecting the county’s farming communities.
We’ve seen some really positive results over the last eight years including;
• strengthening the way we share information and speak with communities ensuring two-way conversations
• working closely with neighbouring forces to identify patterns and trends while sharing intelligence on suspected criminal groups operating in the region
• launching policing initiatives to target specific organised crime groups or trends.
As our policing model has evolved, so has this operation, and a recent initiative which has made a significant impact on organised criminal groups is Operation Moonshot, a team which innovatively uses intelligence to prevent and deter criminals using the road network across the county. Their results include 600 arrests, 844 seizures, 934 Traffic Offence Reports and more specifically the seizure of vehicles and equipment relating to the rural community, such as trailers, plant machinery and boats.
In addition to enforcement activity, we actively engage with communities through the Special Constabulary who are an integral part of our policing response, leading the mounted section with five horses assisting with patrols and public engagement events such as the Norfolk Show.
The significance of rural crime is also now being recognised nationally with a Wildlife Crime and Rural Affairs Strategy launched by the National Police Chiefs Council. It aims to strengthen safe and prosperous rural communities while safeguarding wildlife and I’m pleased to report that the force has a leading role within this, taking the national lead for fuel theft. We will be working with stakeholders to reduce offences and identify and promote best practice in security.
I hope when I write my column this time next year that we will have demonstrated how seriously we take rural crime and that our 2020 policing model will have shown how effective it can be working with farmers and rural communities.