On Thursday, as part of #GiveADayToPolicing, I was able to spend a day with Norfolk Constabulary: seeing first hand how they work to keep Norwich residents safe. It was a packed day, with time spent in a Police Intelligence meeting, on a patrol around the city centre, with the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeugarding Hub) team and at Wymondham HQ control room.
The range of issues I saw dealt with across the locations I visited and roles I shadowed illustrated how important a multi-disciplinary approach is in modern policing. This was especially apparent when looking at the type of safeguarding concerns the MASH team deal with on a day-to-day basis: child and vulnerable adult abuse, domestic abuse and concerns about missing people – among other issues. I was told that approximately 60% of calls to the police are mental health-related. The police, alongside the Ambulance Service, is the only service who ‘can’t say no’ in the face of mental health calls. As other services and charities are cut, pressure mounts on the police in this respect.
Another thing that struck me from the experience was the ‘changing nature of crime’ and the challenges this may pose going forward. The government will often claim that crime is on the decrease – and this may be close to the truth for some categories of crime. However, the types of crime being committed, and how certain crimes are being carried out, is changing as our society evolves. Some forms of crime – which can be equally distressing to the victim – are soaring. As handling our money, security and other key aspects of life becomes increasingly digitalised, cyber-crime becomes more and more prominent in the landscape. Appropriate funding, resources and training needs to be allocated to the police so they can match and stay ahead of this trend.
By the end of the day, it was clearer than ever how hard our local police work to keep us all safe and well – all in the face of cuts being forced on them by central government. I’ll continue to take every opportunity I can to stand up for fair funding, pay and support for this much-valued service.