Questions to Spokespersons
(1) Councillor Gilding asked could the Police Authority Spokesperson please update Members on the Chief Constable’s proposals to replace warranted Police Constables on beat patrols, with Community Support Officers?
Councillor Sharman confirmed that the Review of Neighbourhood Policing had been on-going in one form or another for the last three years.
The key findings of the Review were:-
· Some boundary realignments were required to improve alignment with partners – in particular Local Authorities.
· Police Constables on Safer Neighbourhood Teams could be better utilised and make better use of their warranted powers and problem-solving abilities if they were ‘freed up’ from the local beats and were tasked individually or as a team by the Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeant.
· Police Community Support Officers would move to being Local Beat Officers, becoming responsible for a beat, or a number of beats, as the named first line of contact for local communities
At the Police Authority meeting held on Friday, 13th April, 2012 the Force reassured Members that in discussions taking place around Police Community Support Officer powers and duties would not result in a removal of Police Constables from frontline policing and that reports suggesting that this would result in less Police Officers on the beat were inaccurate – Police Officers would remain visible in the community to work in the same areas that they did now.
Police Community Support Officers would continue their valuable role working alongside Police Officers and Special Constables in Safer Neighbourhood Teams working in communities as they always have done. The Force was proposing that they would enhance their powers so that they could deal with more incidents that did not require a Police Constable with the powers of arrest.
The Police Authority agreed to review the new structure in September and in the meantime would continue to invite views and feedback from the public.
(2) Councillor Gilding asked would the Chief Constable’s plans need the backing of the new Police Commissioner?
Councillor Sharman reported the Chief Constable had operational independence as set out in The Protocol. This was an important document which set out to Elected Policing Bodies, Chief Police Officers and Police and Crime Panels how their functions would be exercised in relation to each other.
However, it was envisioned that the Chief Constable would want to work with the Police and Crime Commissioner to continue to provide an efficient and effective Police Service.
(3) Councillor Gilding was the Police Authority Spokesperson in favour of these proposals?
Councillor Sharman was unable to comment.
(4) Councillor Middleton asked given the recent publicity on the withdrawal of warranted Police Officers from street patrols, could the designated Member inform Members of the number of warranted officers in Rotherham who regularly walked their beat before this announcement?
Councillor Sharman confirmed that the same number of Neighbourhood Police Officers would continue to work on beats in Rotherham as there were before this announcement. Police Community Support Officers would perform the function of Local Beat Officers, servicing community meetings and providing a point of contact, whilst Police Officers would be used on the same beats to conduct enforcement activity using their warranted powers to address problems identified and highlighted by their communities. They have retained all their existing staff within their Safer Neighbourhood Areas and were retaining their existing Safer Neighbourhood Areas and Safer Neighbourhood Team boundaries. The three Central Safer Neighbourhood Teams were to co-locate into Main Street Police Station (closing the bases at Kimberworth and Wharncliffe Flats), saving costs and increasing co-ordination and ‘taskability’ of resources.