Calls for a return to community policing

Federation national deputy chair Tiff Lynch has made a passionate plea for an urgent return to community policing.

“Police officers are not out there doing what they are employed to do and what they want to do in terms of helping society,” says Tiff.

“What we have not got is officers out there on the street, mixing with the community and talking to the community. We need them listening to the community and finding out the root problems that are happening. This would enable them to be better equipped to both solve and deter crime.

“We need to bring back neighbourhood policing. It’s the bedrock of policing and the root of all policing because we are there in the communities we serve.

“From there, it will help us support all other areas of crime.”

Tiff’s comments were welcomed by South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne who said a return to community policing was essential.

He said: “We have to accept that public confidence and trust in policing has fallen in recent years. A lot of that is down to negative headlines but also to the idea that we have become almost detached from the communities we serve.

“It is vital that we start to re-engage with those communities and get back to the sort of policing that the people of South Wales can relate to.

“That means a visible police presence, it means forging relationships in our neighbourhoods and it means getting back into the heart of the community.

“A lot has changed in policing in recent years but there will always be a role for the local officer who knows their patch inside out and if we can re-establish that then I think the positive results will start to speak for themselves when it comes to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and restoring lost trust.”

The role of the police in the community has been heavily featured in the media agenda of late and was again highlighted when shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour would recruit 13,000 more neighbourhood police, with a named officer for each community, if the party wins the next election.

The plans would be supported by new legislation which would guarantee more community patrols to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime. 

Ms Cooper told the BBC: “Too often neighbourhood policing has been seen as a Cinderella service in many forces - always the one that gets squeezed or cut back if there are budget cuts or if there are pressures elsewhere.”

Tiff says that a dereliction of community policing over the past few years has led to a distrust of the service, in certain areas, that needs to be built up again as soon as possible.

“It’s fair to say that policing is through the floor in terms of public trust in the whole service. That doesn’t, however, mean that every single police officer should not be trusted,” added Tiff.

“With ever-increasing levels of cyber-crime and other specialist crime departments needed, our chief constables need to move people around. Every single department will say they are more important than the next, but one thing that doesn’t change is our neighbourhoods, because that is where people live and congregate and that’s where people talk.

“We need to know who the criminals are and we need to know the people that are having the crimes committed against them. We can only do that by being active in the communities in which they live.”

Watch Tiff’s interview.