‘Public are losing faith’ - vow to increase visibility of police

Police on patrol in Norwich city centre

Police on patrol in Norwich city centre. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner has pledged to increase officer visibility in the county after admitting the public are losing faith in policing.   

Giles Orpen-Smellie was elected the PCC for Norfolk in May, taking over from Lorne Green in a role which sets out the way crime is tackled by Norfolk Police.  

Reflecting on his first six months in the post, Mr Orpen-Smellie said there was an “expectation gap” between the public wanting to see more officers on the beat and pressures to tackle less visible crimes. 

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie - Credit: Norfolk Police

He said that he had “quickly realised that, while the police are actually doing an excellent job, the public are losing faith in policing”.

"There is what I’ve started to think of as an ‘expectation gap’ between people's wish to see more visible policing and the police’s obligation to tackle crime, much of which happens outside of public view,” he said. 

“We know that visible policing provides reassurance to communities, even though most crime will be detected and investigated away from public spaces. 

A Norfolk police officer is currently under investigation for allegedly sharing racist and misogynis

Police face conflicted pressures to be visible and to tackle more hidden forms of crime, said Norfolk's PCC . - Credit: PA

“That means there’s a need to ‘bridge’ this gap so that people do see more visible policing and feel reassured, while the police continue to tackle crime.”

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He added that work on increasing police visibility was in hand and officers were “keen to deliver this”.

Last month Mr Orpen-Smellie admitted the force had to win back trust in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder and cases of officers who “through their misconduct betray both public trust in policing and the vast majority of their police colleagues”.

Top of his in-tray when Mr Orpen-Smellie took over was appointing a new chief constable to replace Simon Bailey who retired at the end of June.

Temporary police chief Paul Sanford has been named as the preferred candidate to take over permanently and is expected to be confirmed next month. 

Paul Sanford who is taking over as the new temporary chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary. Pictur

Temporary chief constable Paul Sanford is expected to be confirmed as taking over the role permanently next month. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The PCC is also drafting a new Police and Crime Plan, setting out strategic priorities for the constabulary which he said would “address both the trust gap and bridge the expectation gap”.

"The police are doing an excellent job in keeping us safe,” he said. “Even so, I accept that policing in Norfolk is not perfect and that there’s work to be done, particularly to repair the damage to public trust and to increase police visibility.”

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