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Central Ipswich police inspector on officer 'visibility' – and your chance to put a question to him

29 October, 2018 - 09:00
Inspector Stuart Weaver  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Inspector Stuart Weaver Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Inspector Stuart Weaver is responsible for policing in the centre of Ipswich. In his new column, he provides insight into the job and tackles the issue of police ‘visibility’.

Inspector Stuart Weaver  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNInspector Stuart Weaver Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Over the last few months the police have been in the news a fair bit relating to crime in general – but specifically to Ipswich. This is understandable and I take no issue with it. But it did make me ask myself – how do we really reach out and tell you, the public, what we actually do?

I’ve been to many public meetings over the previous year, the majority of which have a very low public attendance – limiting our audience and ability to communicate widely.

We have social media accounts which are great but limit us to how much information can go out on each post.

It seemed then, that something in the paper and online would be a good way of telling you what we do and why – so here we are.

I’ve thought about what you may want to read. Bearing that in mind, I don’t want to tackle the political or strategic agenda – that is for the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner.

My hope for this read is to be honest, open and informative, giving you an insight into policing.

That’s the ‘introduction’ over, now for ‘writer’s block’. I really didn’t know where to start, subject wise, so I’ve gone back to basics.

‘Visibility’ seems to be a topic that provokes discussion at the moment. It has one meaning for some and another for others.

Some examples relate to online visibility including social media, that of marked police vehicles and the obvious one of visible police on the streets.

When I started in the job, visibility generally meant the ‘local bobby’ on foot in the community. Now it seems so much more, times have changed somewhat.

Over recent years overall numbers of police officers have decreased and demand has increased.

I’m often asked why we don’t see the local community beat bobby any more, or officers on foot patrol.

When I joined the police, there were, as a very general rule, three main departments. These were Uniform, CID and Intelligence and a small proactive element too.

Crime was different then, primarily and with a bit of a broad brush, we dealt with burglaries, theft of and from motor vehicle, shoplifting, commercial burglaries and assaults.

Crime and criminality have changed. While the previously mentioned crime still exists, we are now faced with criminality involving gangs, organised crime, human trafficking, drug supply in the form of County Lines, targeting of our most vulnerable people, cybercrime, knife crime and fraud – just to name a few.

In addition to this and rightly so in my opinion, the police have been subject of many inspections, reviews and changes to National Crime Recording Standards – all of which have influenced how we undertake our business.

We have had to change our approach, adapt and move with the times. Arguably, this has seen the creation of ‘specialist units’ to tackle some of the latest crime trends, some of which can be very complex and challenging.

To create these departments, which has happened over the past years, staff from uniform and CID generally moved into the new posts.

Essentially then, it may be that our ‘visibility’ from your perspective has reduced. Forgive the very basic explanation but it’s the simplest way of explaining it. While you may feel that over recent years, you don’t or haven’t seen the police like you used to, this hopefully allows an understanding that we are still there fighting crime but in differing ways.

Very generically, the emergency calls requiring police urgently are attended and dealt with by our Neighbourhood Response Teams.

The longer term problem solving and partnership working is dealt with by our Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

CID will deal with the more complex crime and we have other departments who all have key responsibility in their specific area of business.

Examples such as cyber crime and the online team, public protection units, domestic abuse teams, youth gang prevention unit, safeguarding teams and proactive teams.

This isn’t the whole list but hopefully provides an outline of how we now police compared to the ‘old days’. We are definitely still out there, just in a different way.

As I write this, Ipswich Central SNT have just arrested two males in Christchurch Park on suspicion of drug dealing.

Overnight response officers arrested two males in Felixstowe for drug related and knife offences and further arrests by uniform officers detaining persons in possession of knives. I only add this as a positive example of ‘visibility’.

Hopefully, I’ve provided an insight into why I wanted to write a regular column and with this article, entered briefly into the debate on ‘visibility’ by explaining how we actually police in the current environment.

- Do you have a question for Insp Weaver over policing in Ipswich? Send it to us

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