Major police shake-up planned for Norwich and Norfolk
Norfolk's top police officer said Safer Neighbourhood Teams would remain the 'bedrock' of local policing despite a major shake-up due to come into force next year.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs), which were introduced in 2006, are being revamped across the county, with the number of teams in Norwich going from seven SNTs to four.
The changes are being made as part of a bid to help Norfolk Constabulary save �24.5m from its budget over the next four years.
But despite the size of the savings needed to be made, chief constable Phil Gormley said current levels of uniformed policing in the communities would be maintained, ensuring the public will not be left vulnerable to crime and anti-social behaviour.
Changes to local policing will see �1.6m saved, mostly by reducing tiers of management – there will be a reduction of 22 sergeants, six inspectors, two chief inspectors and one superintendent.
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Norfolk's new policing plan will see six policing districts – Norwich, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth led by superintendents and Breckland, South Norfolk and Broadland led by a chief inspector.
The plan, which is the result of widespread consultation with staff and outside agencies, goes live on January 9 and will see officers focused on the local communities they know best.
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Mr Gormley said: 'There won't be a big bang on January 9 – a lot of the staff have been moving over the past few months. The ambition is to be a seamless transition.
'We're making savings out of local policing but we're not reducing the number of police constables.
'I'm confident by the reorganisation that we will ensure a service for Norfolk that will continue to deliver the sort of results that we have seen for years in Norfolk.'
Mr Gormley said he has been delighted with the level of 'enthusiasm' shown to the changes by his officers who have been asked for their views as to how they can improve local policing.
He said: 'It's been done with staff for the public rather than to staff. They've been involved with helping us understand from their perspective what will enable them to deliver the best possible service. Staff are actually coming up to me and saying I can't wait until January.'
The reduction in SNTs is a result of teams in Norwich being realigned to complement the district council boundaries and will mean the city has just four teams – Norwich North, South, East and West.
All 17 geographic areas included in the new policing plan will contain a number of SNTs, each led by a locally based inspector who will be accountable for the actions of the local SNT.
All SNTs will be working closer together with local authorities and partnership agencies to develop solutions to problems.
The changes mean that every home and business in the county will be supported by a dedicated SNT which will each have a beat manager, a police officer who will be responsible for leading local teams to engage with local people and resolve their issues.
As part of the new plan, officers throughout the county are being encouraged to use their professional discretion and judgment to carry out their duties.
A new option of extended professional judgment, which allows officers to determine how they deal with incidents in a way that makes sense to most people and which does not unnecessarily criminalise young people, is being rolled out across the county after a successful pilot in Yarmouth.
Mr Gormley said the addition of EPJ means officers will be able to 'use their common sense'.
He said: 'This is about trying to get beyond the hitting the target performance regimes that the police service has been used to over the past 10 years.
'What I want is officers being able to make some professional judgments, as long as they are in line with the wishes of the public, to get the best possible outcome.'
For more information about safer neighbourhood teams, log on to www.norfolk.police.uk and click on safer neighbourhoods or call 101.
Have you got a crime story for the Evening News? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email email@example.com