On the beat with city's bobbies: A day in the life of the police

PC Sean Collingsworth, Beat Manager and PC Solomon Martin, Beat Manager. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

PC Shaun Collingsworth, beat manager and PC Solomon Martin, beat manager. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Beat cops have lifted the lid on how they've changed tactics post-pandemic to keep up with the changing nature of crimes being committed. 

Norwich Police are hoping to give the public more of an insight into what they do on a day-to-day basis as part of their Neighbourhood Policing Week. 

Sergeant Mike Larkin, of Earlham Constabulary, said: "We do a lot of stuff the public don't necessarily see which helps prevent major crimes from happening.

PC Sean Collingsworth, Beat Manager on the beat. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

PC Shaun Collingsworth, beat manager on the beat. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

"We're out every day trying to build relationships in order to prevent more serious and impactful crimes in the community."

He added: "There's more to us and the role of the police than just enforcement." 

PC Shaun Collingsworth who operates as a beat manager in Marl Pit said: "We want to show the difference beat managers can make in the community.

"I was on the response side of the force for 17 years and came over to be a beat manager. The work we do in the communities is to try and build relationships in the sections of Earlham we have."

Most Read

In 2018 Norfolk Police announced Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) would be axed with regular officers instead picking up the community-facing work.

PC Collingsworth added: "We're there to gain the trust of people and help convince them they can come to us, talk to us, as well share any problems they might have."

PC Shaun Collingsworth, Beat Manager outside Baseline centre. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

PC Shaun Collingsworth, beat manager outside Baseline centre. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

PC Solomon Martin, who spent five years as a PCSO and four years since as a PC, said: "Since PCSOs are no longer part of the policing model in Norfolk I felt there was a gulf where communities weren't getting as much contact as before because beat managers were few and far between.

"Since we have a larger team now we can fill that void."

The North Earlham beat manager added: "It's a different kind of policing - we know our areas very well and there aren't many people who haven't seen us patrolling the area, sorting crimes out."

PC Soloman Martin, Beat Manager speaking with members of the community. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

PC Soloman Martin, beat manager speaking with members of the community. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The Covid-19 pandemic posed many challenges for officers across Norwich with PC Collingsworth and PC Martin describing the differences which came about as a result.

PC Collingsworth said: "When restrictions first came in there were a lot more single-crew patrols with more police on foot and it changed the way we do things.

"High priority warrants were still carried out but we had to wear gloves, masks, and full PPE. We had to be cautious."

PC Sean Collingsworth, Beat Manager and PC Solomon Martin, Beat Manager. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

PC Collingsworth and PC Martin. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

PC Martin added: "We'd have people saying they had Covid when we came knocking and you just have to take them at their word.

"So we ended up booking appointments saying 'We'll be back next week' - it was a different kind of busy."

He continued: "We had more domestic crimes through lockdown."

This can be attributed to domestic abuse numbers rising by 300pc during lockdown in the city.

Norfolk charity Leeway witnessed a four-fold surge in people contacting them regarding domestic or sexual abuse.

PC Martin said: "We've also encountered more mental health reports in the last two to three years.

"Whether it's suicide or deteriorating mental health - these cases went through the roof."

The pair have also witnessed a particular rise in one sort of offence - anti-social behaviour. 

This can be from noise or large groups congregating to more serious reports of drink or drug related activity in the area.

PC Shaun Collingsworth, Beat Manager with Grace Richardson, Adult service manager for Future support,

PC Shaun Collingsworth, beat manager with Grace Richardson, Adult service manager for Future support, Baseline. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Regardless of this, the goal for beat managers stays the same.

PC Collingsworth said: "We are here to build trust in the community so no matter how big or small an issue may be, we're here for you.

"People think when the police get involved everything is blown out of proportion but that's where trust is built and we have multiple ways to go into a situation in a calmer manner."

PC Martin added: "Don't be afraid to contact us - we're here to help and be there for people."

PC Sean Collingsworth, Beat Manager speaking with Grace Richardson, Adult services Manager for Futur

PC Shaun Collingsworth, beat manager speaking with Grace Richardson, adult services manager for Future support Pictures: Brittany Woodman


Going back to grass-roots policing

Baseline is one of the many charities which has built a relationship with the police, helping provide a safe area for people to come and express their concerns in the area.

It offers support to a number of vulnerable people in the area with issues such as finance, homelessness, food or help finding jobs.

Grace Richardson is the adult services manager for the Knowland Grove-based organisation.

Grace said: "It's vital to have a friendly face in the police who you can get direct access to.

"Having that flowing communication to talk about certain activity in the area such as people feeling unsafe for any reason."

The work of a beat manager harkens back to days of policing gone by, with Grace adding: "It reminds me of the old fashioned policing again. 

"They're here at the heart of the community and help people feel safe and supported."