Spotlight on Norfolk Police’s Norwich East Safer Neighbourhood Team
A major shake-up of policing in Norwich has seen its safer neighbourhood teams cut from seven to four.PETER WALSH takes a closer look at each one, starting with Norwich East.
Norfolk police chiefs said safer neighbourhood teams (SNT) would remain the 'bedrock' of local policing despite changes which came into force in January. These have seen the introduction of four new teams policing Norwich to reflect council boundaries – and a closer working relationship with the local authority.
Norwich East, formerly the city centre SNT, works in partnership with other local agencies to identify and address community concerns.
The SNT is made up of a team of officers and police community support officers (PCSOs), led by Chief Inspector Dennis Lacey, which covers the city centre, Thorpe Hamlet and West Centre/Heigham Street/Pottergate areas from Bethel Street.
Each policing area in Norwich East is led by beat managers – an officer in charge of the area – with patrol officers and PCSOs working underneath the beat manager to ensure calls can be responded to 24 hours a day and that local priorities can be met.
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Ch Insp Lacey said: 'I want to reassure everyone in East Norwich that their safer neighbourhood team is working hard both to deliver an excellent local service and to solve local problems set by local people.
'The team's focus is to reduce anti-social behaviour that is often at the heart of community issues which affects the lives of so many. This does not mean we will be soft on crime and you will see local officers on your streets, we are here to stop crime and arrest offenders.
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'The way forward is working together as a partnership, we need your help to achieve this and would remind you that early reporting of crime and problems will help us to identify issues before they escalate so we can be in the right place at the right time to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.'
The current policing priorities for the Norwich East team are:
Target drug and alcohol misuse and associated anti-social behaviour in the area behind Norwich market.
To work with partner agencies to address issues around graffiti in the city centre and surrounding areas.
A third priority, addressing concerns over anti-social behaviour in Recorder Road and Cathedral Street, has been signed off after recent work in the area has led to plans for additional lighting to be installed in the area to deter crime and anti-social behaviour.
In terms of existing priorities, officers in Norwich East are working hard to tackle drug and alcohol abuse and associated anti-social behaviour close to Norwich Market and only last month carried out an operation which saw 17 people searched and one person cautioned over drug possession.
Officers from the Norwich East SNT carried out high-visibility patrols at the back of the market on March 29 following concerns from stall holders and the public.
A 51-year-old man arrested on suspicion of drugs possession was later cautioned after admitting possessing a small quantity of crack cocaine.
Sgt Chris Brooks, pictured, said: 'This was a positive day of action which will go some way in preventing illegal drug activity in the area. We will continue to carry out uniform and plain-clothes patrols.'
Officers in Norwich East are also currently cracking down on the blight of graffiti in the city centre. Concern over graffiti in the city led to the issue being made a priority last year when the Evening News launched its Graffitibusters campaign to try to help police tackle the issue.
People have been urged to support the campaign by donating their time and money which can be used to buy paint to help keep the streets clean as part of a series of paint-outs held by police and volunteers.
The paint-outs, which still run every Sunday, with volunteers asked to meet at Bethel Street Police Station at noon, have been supported with donations of paint, materials and help from firms and organisations such as Wilkinsons, The Mall and Hannants. But they are also being used by police as an effective way of enabling young and first-time offenders to help pay for their crimes through restorative justice methods.
Of those offenders who have been dealt with in this way Sgt Brooks said, to date, there have so far been no repeat offenders.
Other challenges for the Norwich East team include tackling late-night violence and cracking down on mobile phone thefts from venues in the night-time economy.
Officers from the Norwich East SNT are currently planning their next series of community events and further information will be issued in due course. To contact them call 101 or email SNTNorwichEast@norfolk.pnn.police.uk