SOUTH Yorkshire Police’s new chief constable is ‘determined’ to keep officers on the streets despite challenging cutbacks – but said pressure on resources means the force will have to make ‘difficult decisions’ about its duties in future.
Chief Constable David Crompton has been in the job for 10 days – and has been out on patrol every night finding out about the crimes affecting the county.
And he says he will be treating tackling anti-social behaviour as a priority and confirmed the force is looking at plans to ‘maximise’ the powers of police community support officers.
He also said he thought proposals to retain a dedicated police helicopter in South Yorkshire for 10 hours a day – dividing its time with a new National Police Air Service – were ‘quite attractive’.
Chief Constable Crompton said: “Despite all the cuts and the challenges around, I’m absolutely determined we’re still going to get out there and keep criminals on the back foot and keep crime down.
“I don’t accept that just because of the recession, crime has to go up.”
The officer, who was deputy chief constable for West Yorkshire before taking on the top job in South Yorkshire, said a decision had not yet been made on whether to extend the powers of PCSOs.
He said: “We’re determined to use both police officers and PCSOs as efficiently as we possibly can. What we want to do is make sure that we send them to the right jobs.
“Some 80 per cent of the things we deal with are not related to crime at all. Of the remaining 20 per cent, only a small number turn out to be confrontational situations. PCSOs are asked to deal with a huge range of things already – what we’re looking at is if there’s anything else we can do to maximise what we get out of them.”
And he said proposed flying arrangements for the South Yorkshire Police helicopter – which were due to go before the South Yorkshire Police Authority today, had ‘pros and cons’.
He said: “We won’t have quite as much ownership, but then again the current flying arrangements don’t give us 24/7 cover.
“It’s quite attractive in some ways, almost giving us the best of both worlds.”
Anti-social behaviour is ‘probably the number one concern’ of local residents, he said.
The 48-year-old said: “It’s the type of problem on their street, on their doorstep. For me it’s more of a priority than it used to be. At one time we never used to treat it with the same degree of seriousness but we do now.”
The former Greater Manchester Police officer said maintaining staffing levels in safer neighbourhood teams was also on his agenda.
“When somebody dials 999 they want a police officer and they want one quickly,” he said.
“Despite the cuts we still want to provide that in the future.”
But he admitted the first Elected Police Commissioner, due to be chosen in November, could have more control than him over force priorities.
He said: “It will have a very definite impact – that’s leaving aside the fact that the commissioner has got the power to hire and fire chief constables!”