How are Suffolk police’s new Kestrel team tackling high-volume crime in the county?
PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 20:05 03 November 2020
Sarah Lucy Brown
Suffolk police’s new Kestrel team can be deployed anywhere in the county to bolster the force’s response to high-volume crimes. Michael Steward spent an afternoon with the squad to learn more about their role.
Seven officers, a sergeant and six PCs, were recruited over the summer to form a highly-visible police team dedicated to dealing with issues and concerns which matter most to Suffolk’s communities.
The funding for the officers came from a 4.69% rise in police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore’s element of council tax, with the Kestrel team tackling crimes such as drug-dealing, violent crime, burglary, robbery, vehicle crime and anti-social behaviour.
Speaking from the group’s base in Eye, Sergeant Kelvin Wenden, who leads the team, said police response teams can bid for the Kestrel squad if they have an issue in their local area.
He said: “If it’s agreed, then we can go there and work proactively, working alongside the SNTs (safer neighbourhood teams) and the response teams to try to tackle the issue they’ve got and try to find some innovative ways to tackle the crime issues that they’ve got, and then looking at some of the preventative work we can do to stop those things happening in the future.”
The team has enjoyed some successful results since its launch, and were dispatched to Red Lodge on Friday following reports of anti-social behaviour around the village’s sports pavilion.
It turns out to be an intelligence gathering exercise, with the officers discussing issues in the area with residents and groundstaff.
Sgt Wenden said: “It’s great to have a team that’s been selected because they’ve got that drive in them to find the crime that’s occurring.
“Alongside that, they’re also really great at speaking to people. Half our job is about going out there, speaking to people, finding out what the issues are, and then tackling that crime and issues in a better way.”
The response from the community in Red Lodge is warm, many are happy to chat and speak to officers about any concerns they may have, and Sgt Wenden added that this has been the case around the county.
“It’s been really positive,” he said. “People love to see police, I think that’s the overwhelming response that we get. Not only that we’re there and speaking to them but they can see that we’re actually making a difference.
“Being there for a few days, we’ve started to build up trust within those communities and from that, we can get to the heart of what those issues are.”
Saturday and Sunday saw the team head to Beccles, following concerns raised by the public over reports of intimidating anti-social beahviour.
Extensive patrols were conducted around the railway station, skate park, Tesco car park and town centre.
One 15-year-old teenager was also arrested following a Misuse of Drugs Act search conducted in the Northgate area of the town. During the search, a small amount of suspected cannabis was located along with a number of clear grip seal bags and scales.
The boy was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply and taken to Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre for questioning. He was subsequently released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk police and crime commissioner, said: “I’m so pleased to see our new Kestrel team making such an impact in Beccles – this is exactly what we wanted.
“The funding of these officers has come from some of the policing precept in this year’s council tax and I hope people will see that their extra funding really is making a difference. As the name suggests, this team has been brought together to swoop into areas where additional resource is required to deal with issues affecting communities, working alongside local policing teams.
“I think the success over the weekend speaks for itself.”
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