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From the editor: Police need to change, but not at a cost to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 14:27 22 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:51 08 October 2018

Picture Archant.

Picture Archant.

In one month alone in Norfolk this year Norfolk Police received 70 individual allegations of rape.

I’m sorry to start with such a depressing fact but this was the figure presented to me this week by Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey as he laid out plans to transform the force between now and 2020.

And it perfectly illustrates just how much the criminal world has changed in just the last few years.

In Norfolk alone, so-called safeguarding and investigation crime has risen by a staggering 357%.This includes crimes such as rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse and child abuse.

MORE: Norfolk Police scraps PCSOs, closes seven stations and shuts front desks in radical reform

All of them are appalling, but equally all of them are complex and time-consuming to resolve.

It is absolutely right, therefore, that the teams established to solve these crimes are grown as much in line with the increase as possible.

However, this week’s announcement around the future of policing will leave many wondering at what cost this has come.

With the potential scrapping of PCSOs in Norfolk, are we now in a situation where finance is so tight, resource so stretched, that traditional community-based police work is no longer possible?

Will more low-level crimes (but still important to those impacted) now have to go uninvestigated and unpunished?

Will we lose the reassuring sight of the bobby on the beat?

It’s important to make clear that in many ways the chief constable’s hands are tied.

Faced with increased financial pressures and reduced budgets something has to give.

Even the 1% police pay increase, rightfully earned by those who do an amazing job, has come at a cost with some of the police provision in Norfolk’s schools now having to be lost.

Only this week fears were raised that a national increase in shoplifting was down to reduced police resources.

We do not want to see that sort of headline in Norfolk, a county which prides itself on low crime rates.

The good work that has gone on to gain the county that reputation and to make us all feel safe most of the time must not be undone.

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