Police officers will 'park, walk and talk' in local communities

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford.

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

Police officers in Norfolk are going to be encouraged to park up and go on the beat around their local communities in a bid to make officers more accessible to the public.

The Park, Walk, Talk initiative has been discussed by Norfolk's temporary chief constable Paul Sanford in his first message to Norfolk's communities since taking on the role earlier this month.

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

Paul Sanford who is taking over as the new temporary chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mr Sanford said: "I want to continue providing strong leadership which will enable officers and staff to provide that exceptional service and a standard of policing everyone can have confidence in.

"In order to do that it is vital we are visible and accessible to all. We want to engage and connect with all our local communities to understand their concerns and, where issues are identified, work with those communities to provide solutions and prevent crime from happening in the first place."

Over the coming months, officers will be encouraged to Park, Walk, Talk – parking up in our towns and villages, spending some time walking around the local community and talking to local residents.

"I want people to be able to approach our officers within their community and tell us what is happening in your local area.

"Our officers will then feedback any issues or concerns to the local Beat Managers."

The initiative evokes memories of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), hailed as the eyes and ears of the police when they were launched in 2002 to help tackle the fear of crime and provide back up to forces.

A PCSO walking on Hunstanton beach. Picture: Ian Burt

File picture of PCSO walking on the beach at Hunstanton. PCSOs were axed by Norfolk Police in 2018. - Credit: Ian Burt

But Norfolk scrapped its 150 PCSOs, who did not have powers of arrest, in 2018 as part of a radical redesign of its policing model which also saw front counters closed.

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Mr Sanford has urged anyone who misses officers out on patrol to contact their local Beat Manager directly so the force can respond to community issues effectively. 

Norfolk's acting police chief insisted the force will continue with its "robust response in tackling criminals and proactively target those who cause the most harm to our communities, such as County Lines drug dealing".

He added: "We will be there for our communities throughout the summer. Our role is to serve the communities we protect and make people feel safe - and we are committed to working with you to achieve that." 

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