Pukaar News – Leicester

Challenges of lockdown for the police business

In the modern day, nearly every organisation runs similarly to a business in some manner. This includes our emergency services too. Back in 2016, we spoke to the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, Simon Cole QPM about the business side of policing.

Back then, we talked about the department’s astounding 168 million pound turnover and how they have all the functionalities of a big business and that they’re a significant employer with around 1800 cops and 1300 staff.

Today, we want to follow up on this, and find out just how our local Police Force is doing, especially during these unprecedented times. 

Chief Constable Simon Cole told us all about how the past four years have been for the Leicestershire Police, and other forces around the UK. He said: “Whilst our Police and Crime Commissioner has been very supportive by ensuring council tax increases have come into the Force, policing had only just started to see new investment coming into it from central government when Coronavirus hit. 

“So, after a period of intense austerity, we are starting to grow back some of the capacity that we lost through getting smaller. When I arrived in 2010 we had over 2,300 officers; today we have 1,917. 

“In Leicestershire we have moved to a new target operating model that puts officers and staff back into local communities with PCSOs, Neighbourhood Police officers and detectives—all based at the heart of communities. The early signs of this new model, along with our use of mobile technology, are that it is helping us to bear down on criminality.”

Chief Constable Simon Cole QPM – Image Credit: Leicestershire Police

The coronavirus lockdown has had a huge impact on most businesses and policing is no exception. Covid-19 has just added another threat that our police face on a daily basis, alongside violence and abuse. Yet they are still working 24/7, both staff and officers, to provide their service to the public. Because of lockdown and social distancing guidelines, changes have had to be implemented in the policing workplace. Simon Cole said: “We have had to rebuild and alter our business whilst still attending 999 calls. It’s a bit like building and rebuilding a plane whilst it is flying. The team effort has been remarkable; I couldn’t be prouder of what people have achieved. Our call centre had to move to social distancing, complete with perspex screens, without missing any emergency calls. 

“Our IT department has pushed hard to accelerate our virtual capabilities; our investment in body worn video, hand held devices, and personal issue laptops has stood us in good stead.

“Our HR team is doing virtual recruiting interviews, keeping in touch with those working from home and supporting the wellbeing of everyone. The finance team sorted the end of year from all sorts of places too! 

“Our garage has been steam cleaning cars before they work on them. The cleaning team have reinvented their processes and have to deal with COVID cells, COVID cars and working in amongst us as we respond to calls from the public. Of course our frontline have faced significant challenges. They are facing risks every day; COVID has become another risk to consider. We aren’t immune from its impact. Usually when the law changes we get the chance in advance to train up everyone. The Health Regulations legislation was, literally, introduced whist people were out on patrol. Throughout we have tried to engage with people and explain the lockdown. We have used lots of commonsense.”

Image Credit: Leicestershire Police

The coronavirus pandemic is just one example of the new challenges our police face. Our society is changing constantly, and these changes sadly bring with them different forms of crime to tackle. Speaking about these new challenges, Mr Cole said: “Policing reflects what is going on in the communities that we work with and serve. Clearly for us all there is going to be changes to how we all live and work. We may all be working differently, using technology more and it’s not clear what some things that traditionally have been time consuming for policing will look like ahead; football and the night time economy spring to mind. 

“Whilst it isn’t a new challenge the level of domestic abuse that we see concerns me; it has a huge impact on victims, children and wider families. In a typical day we will attend about 58 domestic abuse incidents; that is five times as many such incidents as we will attend burglaries. Every one is a personal story, often a difficult one. There is an enormous amount of safeguarding work ongoing with partners.*” 

With this ever-changing society, predicting future challenges that any of us face can be difficult. Aside from the threat that Covid-19 poses to all of us, there is another topic that is of great concern to the Police. With many of us being in lockdown, the use of tech such as smart devices has likely risen. This, alongside the increase in less tech-savvy users due to the rise of accessibility with these devices, may have contributed to the continued growth of cybercrime. Mr Cole said: “The threat posed by cybercrime grows and grows. Whether at home or at work we all must work together to prevent cybercrime. I’d recommend people take a look at @leicscyberaware on twitter or at www.leics.police.uk for sensible prevention advice. Prevention really is better than cure.

“Of course the biggest way to combat threat is by supporting our ability to grow back in size. We are recruiting officers and staff! The new recruits that I see are hugely talented, from all sorts of backgrounds, and share a desire to make the world a better place. They will combat any threat that comes their way!”

 

*If you need help then it is available by calling the Police on 101 or UAVA (United Against Violence and Abuse) on 0808 80 200 28

 

By Sam Ellison

 

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