Troubled South Yorkshire communities to steer high profile police operations in future

Communities are to be given the chance to choose how high profile policing operations are targeted in future in a radical move as force bosses work to improve public satisfaction levels.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 10:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 10:08 am
Testbed: Barnsley police will be the first to operate new style Operation Duxford

South Yorkshire Police have been running Operation Duxford action days for some time, using concentrated resources to target localised areas and specific types of crime, such as drug-dealing.

The operations have been well publicised with the intention of improving public confidence was well as having a serious impact on some of the most active criminals.

But now Operation Duxford is to move into a new phase, where police ask the public what their priorities are for police attention, with the actual operations organised to meet those demands.

The system is to be tested first in Barnsley, with police to approach local community safety groups to ask opinions about the issues people want to see tackled first.

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The move is possible because police have been working hard to tackle some of the biggest demands on officers’ time since the county’s new neighbourhood policing teams were introduced.

That work has been largely successful, with demand reduced at 36 of the county’s 40 points of highest demand, locations including hospitals and fast food outlets.

However, it is acknowledged that for many communities those locations are remote and the policing that has gone off there remains largely unseen.

Reducing the demand on police time there, along with the crime reduction effect of earlier Duxford operations, has freed up enough policing capacity to allow senior officers to switch the focus to issues which communities themselves find most important.

A report prepared for the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: “The next Barnsley district Operation Duxford event will be shaped using a slightly different approach, with neighbourhood teams asking the community at all PACT/engagement meetings to tell us what local issues they specifically want our resources to tackle that day.

“These will be used alongside the most recent survey results of what matters most.

“The results of what we did will be shared with the communities and the impact on Your Voice Counts (satisfaction survey) results tracked over the year.”

Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: “The next Duxford will focus on localised issues rather than high profile drug warrants.

“Hopefully, we will see some benefits come through in future results.

“Tackling demand in the way we have done has been necessary to give us capacity. It enables us to start to pivot towards, of course you want to maintain a suppressive effect on the demand drivers, a focus on issues which are important to people.

“It will be very much driven by what people are wanting us to do. That, I think, will help us to touch those parts more directly.”

Dr Billings said he had already been approached by a councillor to report the “tremendous difference” localised policing had made in the Foxhill area of Sheffield.

Assistant Chief Constable Lauren Poultney said: “That word of mouth drives confidence. We need to create an environment where people see what we are doing.”

Despite recent improvements in South Yorkshire Police’s performance, public satisfaction levels have shown a decline in some areas, particularly trust and confidence where levels have been slipping since 2016.

Overall satisfaction levels have shown a more mixed picture, with the force’s treatment of people now as well regarded as it has previously been, though people questioned still remain less impressed with the actions taken by officers and follow up work than they were in the Spring of last year.