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'It does worry you' - victims voice fears after figures reveal Norfolk has lost more than half its neighbourhood police officers in five years

PUBLISHED: 17:22 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:22 01 February 2018

Police officers on the beat in Norfolk. PIC: Ian Burt.

Police officers on the beat in Norfolk. PIC: Ian Burt.

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Crime victims have told how they are worried after new figures revealed Norfolk has lost more than half its neighbourhood police officers in the past five years.

Figures released today show the county is one of 10 forces, which also includes Suffolk, in the country have lost the most neighbourhood police officers from 2012 to 2017.

The statistics, from the BBC Local News Partnership, reveal Norfolk Constabulary has lost almost 60pc (56.17) of its neighbourhood officers over the period with a total loss of 127 posts.

Police chiefs in Norfolk, where crime rose by 11.8pc last year, insist following radical changes they are well placed to meet the demands of a changing face of crime, with more emphasis on tackling more serious crimes.

But victims of crime in the county have expressed concern about fall in neighbourhood officers which will plummet further in April when Norfolk’s axes all its Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) as part of proposals to save £2m a year.

Former Norwich City manager Ken Brown had precious memorabilia, including the 1985 Milk Cup winner’s medal he won as Norwich boss, stolen in the raid at their Blofield home in 2015.

Mr Brown, who managed City from 1980 to 1987, described the drop in officer numbers as “incredible”.

His wife Elaine, 62, said she was concerned about the falling number of officers. She said: “When you hear what’s going on with the police it does worry you. I remember the days when you used to walk out in the village and see a uniformed police officer but those days are well and truly gone. It does worry you.”

She added: “We have a PCSO in our village and he is absolutely brilliant. You know if there’s a problem you can call him and to not have that is just dreadful.”

The Home Office said the changing face of crime, with overall traditional crime continuing to fall, meant different solutions were needed.

A spokesman said: “We are clear that effective local policing needs to be about more than just visibility in isolation. With crime increasingly taking place behind closed doors and online it is also about safeguarding vulnerable groups or individuals and giving the police the powers they need to deal with emerging and hidden crimes.”

Norfolk Police response

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “There have been fundamental changes in policing from the types of crime we investigate to the threats faced, and we must ensure our workforce is best placed to meet this demand.

“We acknowledge the reduction in neighbourhood officers. However, the new policing model has enabled us to invest in frontline resources, including police officers, detectives and police support staff. Community engagement continues to be at the core of our policing model and frontline officers will continue to work closely with our communities through our 49 Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

In addition, through investment in new technology, officers are now able to carry out tasks on mobile devices which would have normally required them to return to the station. This means officers can be more visible in communities. Our priority is to keep Norfolk safe - our policing model may have changed but our commitment hasn’t.”

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