People don’t want to watch the buck being passed. They want to see a properly-resourced Police Service. They want to know that there are enough officers to protect them from crime. Unfortunately, unless the government finds more money for Suffolk Police that will not be the case. Just in the last year, overall crime in Suffolk is up 16% and violent offences are up 29%. Yes, our County is still fairly safe, but it is nowhere near as safe as it could be. Violent crime per person in Ipswich is not unlike the figure in Sheffield – I believe we can do much better than that.
Now the Police & Crime Commissioner is calling on Suffolk residents to work with the Police in solving crime. In my experience, Suffolk people are very willing to do just that. We have effective Neighbourhood Watch schemes, we have a large number of Special Constables – although even those have been seriously reduced – and we have a high level of cooperation from ordinary citizens. I am not clear what any new scheme would achieve. I am not even convinced that Suffolk Police have enough officers to make use of any additional evidence the general public give them. Already I have had several cases where members of the public – including shopkeepers – have done their best to identify criminals, but have not felt that the police were working with them. Not every piece of “evidence” is actually usable, of course, but the Police must do their best to use information from the public, otherwise it will not be forthcoming.
We need more police officers. And we need more probation officers, and prison officers, and prison psychiatrists, and hostels, and drug& alcohol rehabilitation services, and mental health services too, so that fewer people end up committing crimes and the pressure on the Police is lessened.
Keeping our country safe should be the first priority of a government. We need a fully-staffed Police Service with properly-paid officers and the support from the rest of society that they need in order to deal with crime. The people of Suffolk have clearly said that that is what they want – it is time for the Government to listen.