Police teams have positive impact

Attitudes towards policing in some of Norfolk's most deprived areas have improved according to an independent study - but rural areas must not be forgotten.

Attitudes towards policing in some of Norfolk's most deprived areas have improved according to an independent study - but rural areas must not be forgotten.

An external study, commissioned by Norfolk police, into public confidence in the force's safer neighbourhood teams is published today.

It shows satisfaction in Norwich West Centre, Mile Cross, Thetford, South Yarmouth and Thorpe Hamlet has risen over the last three years. The areas were selected based on high crime levels and higher than average social deprivation.

The survey comes after assistant chief constable Kevin Wilkins admitted the force's grass roots policing teams needed to be improved. His remarks followed a Norfolk Police Authority report in January found rural communities did not know how to get hold of their local team and did not feel they were able to influence policing priorities.

The latest report was overseen by Janet Foster, a Norfolk police advisor and academic working for the Police Foundation.

She said: “The survey results clearly show that Norfolk constabulary is having a positive impact in our communities. It is reassuring to see a significant increase in confidence and that good progress is being made.”

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The areas had been chosen because they had larger volumes of crime and more policing issues than others, meaning the impact of safer neighbourhood teams would be more tangible. However, the study only provides a insight into urban areas.

She added: “Different neighbourhoods need different types of police intervention. There is certainly no one size fits all approach and rural areas will benefit from an alternative approach to urban areas.

“But what this study does show is that, when applied correctly, the principles behind safer neighbourhood teams can be very beneficial.

“Communities respond to good leadership, strong relationships with local officers and the reassurance of increased visibility.”

Overall the survey of 500 people showed that 79pc of resident in the areas think officer are doing a fair, good or excellent job. This compares to 43pc three years ago.

Norwich West Centre received the highest scores for safer neighbourhood action panel meetings attendance and being involved in local policing priorities. Mile Cross was highlighted as performing well on how respondents felt about their local area and their perception of safety and police presence.

In Thetford the percentage of respondents believing the police do a good or excellent job has trebled in three years.

South Yarmouth excelled in awareness of safer neighbourhood teams, visibility and interaction. Thorpe Hamlet achieved the highest score of the five neighbourhoods for 'the police doing a good/excellent job in the area'.

Chief constable Ian McPherson said: “In the past two years, there has been a sea-change in the way Norfolk is policed. Our 52 safer neighbourhood teams, now firmly embedded in the fabric of local communities, provide the grass-roots foundation for a truly people-focused service.

“Our priority is to deliver first class policing services to the people of Norfolk and, working with the community, to continue to improve peoples' quality of life.”