ON THE BEAT: By Inspector Jim Tyner
Last week the College of Policing published the first national assessment of demands on policing.
Reassuringly it echoed what I have been writing for many months: recorded crime may have fallen but demands for policing services have not.
If you are interested in policing and have access to the internet, it’s well worth a read. The report is available at www.college.police.uk/en/docs/demand_report_21_1_15.pdf
It is already well documented that we are the lowest-funded, most efficient police force. We have fewer officers per 1,000 population than any other force.
I have said before: there is no such thing as a typical policing day in the 284 square miles of South Holland.
My greatest pleasure in policing is that you never know what’s going to happen next. This is also its greatest challenge. But to give an understanding of what we deal with I will share with you a recent 24 hour period in South Holland
In the 24 hours there were 55 incidents or calls for our service:
* The first collision of the day was reported at 7.15am in Gedney. This was quickly followed by collisions in Holbeach and Whaplode St Catherine so that by 8am we had run out of officers.
* At 8.40am we received the first report of hare coursing in Deeping St Nicholas. Luckily the Operation Galileo team were on duty in the area as this was followed by nine other calls throughout the morning. In all, seven men were reported for hare coursing and a vehicle was seized.
* At 9.55am we received a 999 call from an address in Holbeach where an elderly woman had fallen over inside her own home.
The caller could hear shouting for help. An ambulance was requested and an officer was immediately deployed. The officer arrived at 10.05am and had to force an entry. The woman wasn’t too badly hurt but needed an ambulance, which arrived at 10.29am, but an officer had to remain there until boarding up was completed at 11:20am
* There was a report of a suspicious incident in Gedney Hill. At 11am two men purporting to be council workers tried to trick their way in to a home. This wasn’t reported to us until 12.30pm, but officers still carried out a search of the area and couldn’t find them. This was recorded as a suspicious incident
* At 4pm we received a 999 call from Holbeach St Johns where hare coursers were alleged to have hit a window with an iron bar. Officers were deployed to the area, arriving at 4.27pm. A crime has been recorded and enquiries continue.
* At 4.30pm we received a report of a violent domestic incident that had occurred 20 minutes earlier. The offender was an ex-boyfriend who had run off. An officer visited at 5pm and began an investigation.
At 5.30pm officers responded to a 999 call from another address reporting a drunk hitting his mother. Both incidents resulted in men being arrested and taken to Boston custody. They were both later charged and kept for court. Officers would now be heavily committed evidence-gathering for both incidents.
* At 6.35pm we received a report of a two-vehicle collision at Crowland. Officers arrived at 6.59pm and a woman was taken to hospital by ambulance. Officers had to remain on scene until a fuel spillage was cleaned up by the Highways Department at 8.30pm.
This meant that by early evening, for a short while, we had again run out of officers. Of course, if there were a further urgent incident, we would get support from neighbouring areas, but some of the non-urgent incidents would not be dealt with until the following day.
* At 10.15pm we received a report of a burglary in Holbeach. Night shift officers attended and completed an initial crime report. Further enquiries were made by CID the following day.
Pressures of space prevent me listing all 55 incidents in the 24 hours, but they included a missing teenager, four concern for welfare incidents including someone with mental health issues, an insecure premises and 11 traffic related incidents. Sadly, there were also three sudden deaths.
In the 24 hour period, out of 55 incidents, only four resulted in recorded crimes. That’s about seven per cent. Conversely, this also means that 93 per cent of the calls in that period were not linked to recorded crime.
This doesn’t mean that I think people shouldn’t call us. In writing this I am not trivialising the nature of the calls: quite the contrary. I’m well aware that when people call us they are often at their wit’s end and don’t know who else to turn to.
What I hope to achieve is an understanding when we can’t always attend as quickly as people would like.
Each of the officers on duty already had an investigation workload from previous incidents that were reported. In addition, detectives were working hard behind the scenes on child protection investigations, cyber-crime, major fraud enquiries and many other complex enquiries: protecting vulnerable people.
A police commander recently said that policing operates in the places of greatest vulnerability and need in society: in amongst the broken homes and broken bones, the broken hearts and broken lives. I couldn’t put it better.
In South Holland, my officers may not always be visibly on patrol, but they are working as hard as ever, carrying out complex and varied tasks. Working to tackle anti-social behaviour. Working to protect vulnerable people. Working to reduce burglaries. Working for you.