Faced with saving £30 million from policing budgets, Humberside’s police and crime commissioner Matthew Grove says he’s taking a new and fresh approach.
Putting individual areas under the microscope to look for things to cut out was the wrong way to make savings, he said.
Instead, he’s gone for a blank sheet of paper on which to create a new look for policing in the county.
It’s already seeing a re-shaping of the way the force in managed, moving from four divisions to just three.
“But we’re at three-and-a-half at the moment, with work in progress to amalgamate the two south bank divisions into one,” said Commissioner Matthew Grove, whose appointment replaced 17 members of the Police Authority.
But Epworth Town Council Chairman Don Stewart feared a reduction in costs would mean a reduction in the number of available officers.
“When the riots happen in Scunthorpe on a Saturday night we could find ourselves in the Isle with no police officers here at all,” he said – and the Commissioner agreed with him.
Mr Grove said: “But that will probably always stay the same, because if something big happened in the Isle of Axholme, I’d expect all the Scunthorpe officers to be here in the Isle to help deal with it. It’s about directing our resources to where they’re most needed,” he said.
But it wasn’t appropriate to put all the resources in one area all the time, because that would mean abandoning other areas. “It’s a challenge,” he said.
He believes neighbourhood policing to be the way forward, with his officers working in partnership with District and Town Councils.
He said: “Town Councils are an integral part of the policing team. Policing is a team game, and I would expect officers to attend meetings of town councils and busy parish councils. I would like to think you would see a PCSO at every other meeting,” he said. That came as a surprise to councillors in Epworth, for whom that doesn’t yet happen.
Mr Grove added: “We need a ‘can do’ attitude to policing. There are lots of people who can come up with problems; what we need is people who can think of solutions.”