Northamptonshire Police reaping benefits of bringing specialist operational units back to Force, says Chief Constable
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Chief Constable Nick Adderley says Northamptonshire Police is delivering a better service to the public since withdrawing from a longstanding regional collaboration on specialist operational policing.
For several years the Force worked alongside colleagues in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire sharing specialist services including police dogs, roads policing and armed response.
Two years ago, a process began to withdraw from the agreement and instead return those officers to Force, ensuring they were deployed only within Northamptonshire.
Mr Adderley said the new model was delivering a more effective, targeted and better resourced service that provided greater visibility and resilience and, ultimately was building public confidence in Northamptonshire Police.
He said: “First and foremost, my duty as Chief Constable is to fight crime and protect people in Northamptonshire. When I took over in August 2018, it became clear to me the collaborative arrangements in place in this particular area fell short of what was needed.
“During the past 12 months we can now evidence real improvements in the way we deploy and manage our specialist teams to deal with the issues which matter to the public of Northamptonshire.
“For example, we recorded a 122 per cent increase in incidents attended by armed response vehicles in 2020, because the capability has been brought in-house. Response times to such incidents are now greatly improved resulting in more offenders being brought to justice and the safety of the public maximised.
“Similarly, we now have a dedicated Serious Collision Investigation Unit where a team of officers, working in a really challenging area, are now providing a better than ever service to victims of injury on the roads and sadly to the families of those who have lost their lives due to road harm.
“Our police dogs team is now our own police dogs team, not one where resources are taken to assist at locations up to 100 miles away. With investment, we have expanded from 10 under the EMOpSS arrangement to 15 now, including the addition of highly specialised dogs capable of searching for the likes of cash, human remains and firearms.
“We expect police dogs to assist in more than 1500 incidents in the coming year, a full 22 per cent increase on 2020 alone.”
Extra officers on the ground also meant that in addition to carrying out their core roles, there was evidence to show they were also helping to support searches for missing people and concern for safety issues, in line with the Force’s remit to protect the vulnerable. This has been enhanced with investment in the latest drone technology allowing air support at a fraction of the cost when requesting a police helicopter.
Mr Adderley said the return of the operational units – which can still be deployed out of county through mutual aid arrangements – had brought some wider benefits to the workforce.
He said: “There is real evidence that it is helping to improve the morale of frontline officers, not least those who worked in the regional arrangements previously and may have felt detached from their home Force. In addition, we are also sensing it in terms of the positive trends in our recruitment with applicants genuinely sensing a Force making real headway."
Mr Adderley also pointed to other areas where frontline officers were benefiting and the public was seeing results.
He added: “Many of you will be aware of my commitment to issue taser to all officers who choose to carry the device. That roll-out continues with plans to extend it to qualifying Special constables in 2021 and to student officers with at least 12 months service. Our own published evidence shows 96 per cent of officers now feel safer as a result of this."
The Chief added that an additional £1.3m funding from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, to add a further 150 ANPR (Automatic Numberplate Recognition System) cameras across the county last December was delivering a “seismic” increase in vehicle stops with 819 carried out between January 20 and April 20, leading to 177 arrests, 514 traffic offences being detected and 311 vehicle seizures.
He added: “Across the board, the public should be reassured that bringing these key areas of business back to fight crime and protect people in Northamptonshire was the right thing to do.”