INSPECTOR Mark Coulthard who leads the local policing teams in Holderness spoke at the Hedon Town Council meeting last night to explain the changes that are taking place in Humberside Police force.
Prompted by austerity spending cuts, with the force having to make savings of £31 million by 2019, the changes will be “radical” said Inspector Coulthard. However, he pledged that locally each community would have its own named officer, the police would be easy to reach, and the town should still expect the same level of attendance at its events like the Remembrance Day Parade and the Penny Throwing.
Shift patterns in the force were changing to able it to better respond to crime actually taking place. Whereas in the past there were the same number of police officers on duty at 7am in the morning as at 7pm in the evening, that would now change; more police would be on duty at 7pm when most crime took place. Officers would be working more late shifts and would be coming on duty at staggered times to ensure that more police resources were available at the times when the levels of crime were the highest.
The main response officers covering incidents in Hedon and district would start their shift from Clough Road Police Station in Hull, but would be out most of their shift in Hedon and the rural areas. Officers designated ‘deployable’ would be available solely to respond to incidents as they arise. When a serious incident occurs, then the nearest resource or deployable officer would respond. The community policing team covering Hedon would start their shifts from Withernsea Police Station but again would be out most of the time in their areas. The community team would also be bolstered by having CID investigating officers attached to them. This marshalling at the start of shifts and deployment of officers was described by Insp. Coulthard as “playing chess with police officers” but he said the new system should mean that there are more officers on duty.
Hedon Police Station would remain open and there are currently no plans to close it – but that may change in the future according to the Inspector. The station would serve as a ‘community hub’ which means it would be a drop-in area for police officers on duty. It is currently open to the public for two days a week, but that’s dependent on the admin staff that act as receptionists when not managing the operation of the station.
Insp. Coulthard explained how things had traditionally operated, and the difference being made by the changes: “A typical response to a burglary report might involve a visit to the victim’s home by a response officer, then the neighbourhood officer would attend offering victim support and crime prevention advice, then CID would come to actually investigate the crime, and then a scenes of crime officer who would dust for fingerprints… why not send a CID officer straight away? Part of the changes we are introducing is to ensure that when people contact the police and it requires a visit, they are visited by the right person for the job.”
Crime levels in Hedon are actually very low in comparison to the big urban areas. Insp. Coulthard gave the following sample figures revealing the demands on police time as a percentage – Hornsea and Driffield are comparable with Hedon :
- Hull 44%
- Grimsby 22%
- Hornsea 1.2
- Driffield 1.4%
From these figures then the move to concentrate police resources in the areas and at the times when crime is highest is understandable. But how the system works in practice will undoubtedly have to be closely monitored and any increase in crime levels on our patch will undoubtedly set alarm-bells ringing.
Matthew Grove, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Humberside, has given his personal undertaking to protect neighbourhood policing in Holderness and rural communities. He is also being invited to address a future meeting of Hedon Town Council.
Report based on observation and notes taken at the meeting.