New Sheffield police chief in bid to make people feel safer
A new Sheffield police chief responsible for overseeing major investigations in the city has pledged to try to make people feel safer.
CRIME: Police probe into Ecclesall Road crash in Sheffield continues as two men remain in hospitalSuperintendent Mel Palin, South Yorkshire Police’s Head of Investigations in Sheffield, took over her new role in May and said making residents and visitors to the city feel safer would be a mark of her success. COURT: Five men to be sentenced for sex attacks on seven Rotherham girlsThe 48-year-old, who was born in Sheffield and has 27 years’ service to her name, started out as a bobby on the beat after landing the job she said she had always wanted to do since she was five.
LATEST: Sheffield student blown up in car beside his motherOver the years she has worked as reactive detective and on investigations into major incidents, including murders and kidnaps.She has also worked in public protection and the police unit responsible for gathering and assessing intelligence – tip offs and information vital for the police force to keep one step ahead of crime trends and offenders operating in South Yorkshire.In her new role, Supt Palin is now responsible for overseeing all crime investigation in Sheffield.The daunting task means that the senior officer manages the way investigations are conducted and has an overview of where Sheffield detectives and police teams are at any one time.She has to manage resources to ensure each investigation has the officers and detectives needed to investigate offences and safeguard victims. But her role also includes overseeing offender management, including sex offenders released back into the community after serving their sentences behind bars.Overseeing the protection of vulnerable people is also in her remit, ensuring resources are available to identify and protect those at risk of crime.“It is a huge job but I am really excited about it,” she said.“I have worked in South Yorkshire all my life but this is my first post in Sheffield and what it brings are some real opportunities to engage with a number of communities and look at the different types of criminality that a big city has.”She said managing investigations into organised crime in Sheffield will form a major part of her new role, with gangs and serious violence, such as stabbings and shootings, often associated.“Organised crime is everywhere, but obviously in a major city you are going to experience it more. It is one of the challenges we face here,” she said.“But my task is to work with detectives, response and neighbourhood teams to oversee the priority of investigations of all crime and wider operations across Sheffield.“The aim is to work closely to deliver investigative and preventative work to try to keep communities safe.”Supt Palin added: “I’m really glad to be here to work closely with communities and my teams to help people who live in Sheffield to feel safe whether they are out and about, at work or in their homes.“I think there are some parts of Sheffield, and this is what I get from some young people, community leaders and MPs for example, who report that there are people who do not feel safe in Sheffield."I think a lot of that is perception of crime but people do have some real concerns so we are doing a lot of work, more than ever, with and in communities.”The police chief said: “We are working with partner agencies with direct links to communities to provide information in a way which is accessible and that people understand.“We are working to divert people away from crime and we are involved with education work.“We recognise that the police are not always the right people to give messages to people involved in criminality, so a lot of our work is with youth workers and mentors who are perhaps better able to communicate with young people about why they feel they need to carry knives, for example.“Enforcement is not all we do, communication and pointing people, especially young people, in the right direction and giving them support is also key in terms of taking them on a journey to a better life.”Supt Palin said work in communities is vital before serious incidents occur which plunge them into crisis.“It is important that the police build relationships with communities at a time when they are experiencing normal life rather than when they are in crisis after an incident such as a murder,” she said.“It is far easier to get the support of local communities and information needed for investigations if the relationships are already there when something happens which causes some sort of crisis.“Tensions often run high when something serious happens in a community, so developing those relationships now is something we take really seriously.”An injection of Government funding to set up a violent crime task force in Sheffield, largely in response to concerns about knife crime, means Supt Palin now has more officers at her disposal than when she first took over her new role.“This injection of funding provides additional resources to put extra officers into communities to carry out early disruption activity where we have seen serious violence, to engage with communities and to carry out enforcement work.“We have seen some positive responses from members of the public about seeing additional officers out and about.”But she admitted that ‘balancing resources’ is a huge challenge.“Balancing resources between immediate demand that comes in day after day and the need to get ahead of the game and carry out preventative and diversionary activities is a challenge but that it where partnership working comes in,” the police chief said.“We don’t just want to do enforcement work to end violent and organised crime for example, but with partners we want to tackle the issues that are the causes of it to stop it happening in the first place.”Supt Palin said that despite incidents such as knife and gun crime often hitting the headlines and triggering a major police response, police officers and detectives also invest a huge amount of their time on the issues which affect more people – victims of burglary, robbery and sex offences.She also said stressed that work with vulnerable members of society is also a major priority.“Domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation, honour based abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, rape and sexual assaults are also among the investigations we carry out and those are going up year on year – probably not because they are happening more but because people have more confidence in coming forward and reporting it,” said Supt Palin.She added: “My role is about making sure the resources are in place to make sure people get the service that they need and which is appropriate for the crime they have reported.“My main aim is to make people feel safe and be safe on the streets of Sheffield and to have confidence that when they need us we will be there.”Supt Palin took over from Chief Supt Una Jennings, who was promoted earlier this year and is now Rotherham’s District Commander.Anyone with information to help crack crime in Sheffield should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.