Police: We can’t send officers to every car crime

A Yorkshire police force has seen a fall in satisfaction rates among victims of vehicle crime since the launch of a new system where officers are not automatically sent out to all reports from the public.

Wednesday, 25th November 2015, 2:23 am
North Yorkshire Police is no longer sending officers to all reports of vehicle crime

Under North Yorkshire Police’s new ‘THRIVE’ approach for responding to reports of a crime, launched last April, the county force is no longer sending officers to virtually every incident as it did previously.

Instead, call-handlers assess incidents based on the criteria of ‘threat, harm, risk, investigative opportunity’ before deciding on the most appropriate approach. It means in many cases officers will not be sent to reports of low-level crime if bosses do not believe this will serve a purpose.

But according to a recent report issued by the force, the fall in the number of officers sent out to reports of crime has led to a drop in the number of victims satisfied with North Yorkshire Police’s performance.

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Mike Stubbs of North Yorkshire's Police Federation

Overall satisfaction rates have fallen by 4.7 per cent this year, to 82.4 per cent, while the rate among victims of vehicle crime has dropped by six per cent to 78 per cent.

The force says satisfaction rates remain high and the fall is due to a failure to “manage the expectations” of crime victims by telling them from the outset whether an officer will be sent out to them.

North Yorkshire Police says it no longer has the “luxury” of sending an officer to nearly every incident as part of a “triple gold-plated service” because of dramatic cuts to its budget. It says more than 2,000 officer hours have been saved due to the changes since April 2014.

But the county’s Police Federation, representing rank and file officers, said the satisfaction rates showed “that North Yorkshire Police still has a long way to go in explaining to the public the reality of what policing in austerity really means”.

On Friday, it emerged that police officers in neighbouring West Yorkshire could be sent to just one in three incidents in future in a bid to cope with huge budget cuts.

Plans being considered by the force would see two thirds of reports dealt with remotely or by appointment at police stations.

Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said the force was having to distinguish between what “we could do and what we must do” in the face of drastic funding reductions.

North Yorkshire Police’s Chief Superintendent Amanda Oliver said the overall picture for victim satisfaction at her force was “very positive”, adding: “The issue that is being highlighted in the performance report is really one of expectation”.

She said: “In the past, the police could afford to give a triple gold-plated service, and send an officer to virtually every incident – even if there was not a good policing reason for doing so. In the current financial climate we do not have that luxury.

“We have to think a lot harder about where and how we deploy our resources, and how we can focus our officers’ time where it is most needed – that is where the THRIVE model comes in.

“Under THRIVE, we assess the threat, harm, risk, investigative opportunity, vulnerability of the victim and level of engagement required for every single incident – then we tailor the policing approach according to that assessment.

“If we need to send an officer, then we do. But if sending an officer will not serve any useful purpose, then we don’t do it, because we can use that officer’s time more productively to support other victims.

“As a result of adopting this approach, we’ve been able to reduce the time it takes us to get an officer to incidents that really require our attendance by about 20 per cent, so we can give a better service to those who are most vulnerable and at risk.”

Though North Yorkshire Police has not been hit as badly as other neighbouring forces by Government cuts, it has had to cut its spending by £16 million between 2011 and this year.

Mike Stubbs, of North Yorkshire’s Police Federation, said: “Within the organisation, we understand all too well that government cuts mean that there are some things which we can no longer do.

“This shows that North Yorkshire Police still has a long way to go in explaining to the public the reality of what policing in austerity really means.

“You cannot cut millions and millions of pounds and expect the same service. This is not scaremongering or crying wolf - cuts really are having consequences.”