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A chance for you to air your views

Tim Passmore 'on tour' in Bury St Edmunds (2789073)
Tim Passmore 'on tour' in Bury St Edmunds (2789073)

For many of us in Suffolk the summer time is one of great enjoyment – the countryside looks fantastic and we can revel in how fortunate we are to live in such a wonderful county, writes Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore.

You may know we have just celebrated Suffolk Day and for me it was a golden opportunity to recognise the great work so many charities and voluntary organisation carry out locally for our collective benefit and thank the all for their support.

Yet sadly, amidst this positivity storm clouds have gathered and continue to gather on the horizon. Ever since I was first elected as Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner the pattern of crime continues to change at an alarming rate. The emergence of the online and technological threat continues to develop and the advent of human trafficking and forced labour were almost unheard of just a few years ago. For me, however, it is the drug-related criminal gangs and associated violent crimes that cause me enormous concern. I really do believe this is the greatest challenge our county currently faces.

Nobody who lives in Suffolk can fail to know about the terrible stabbings which have taken place in Ipswich and Haverhill, and whatever the causes or explanations I’m absolutely horrified a young life has been taken from us in such tragic circumstances.

The reason I’m talking to you about this is because I need your help to try to prevent such crimes happening again. A quick reminder for everyone about my role is I’m elected to represent the public interest and it goes without saying there’s a fundamental requirement on me to listen to what you are saying about crime and policing and do my level best to satisfy those requirements. I’m also very well aware all the policing resources available are funded by your taxes and the money is not mine or the chief constable’s, so receiving your views is vital.

I am always looking to improve our public engagement and apart from the normal channels of communication by emails, letters and telephone there are two important opportunities each year in every district and borough to talk directly with the chief constable, senior officers and myself. The first occasion presents itself through slightly more formal evening meetings where anyone can attend and put forward their concerns and ask questions. All items raised are recorded and placed on our website afterwards. The other format is the informal ‘On Tour’ format where the chief and myself are present in a town centre in each of the seven district and borough areas during lunchtime in August. There’s no need to book for either event – just turn up and ask whatever you like. The details of the visits and meetings are set out below so if you are able to attend I will be very pleased to see you.

Matters raised are recorded as they influence how policing resources are allocated and what direction the Police and Crime Plan takes - and if the plan requires some adjustment as circumstances change we will do so. One such adjustment needed very quickly is how the increase in violent crime and drug-related gang activity will be dealt with effectively.

My public engagement events are also an opportunity for residents to gain a greater understanding of why certain decisions are made and some of the challenges the police face. In some ways it is an extension of the on-going partnership between the public are the police, as Robert Peel said all those years ago,’the police are people and the people are the police’.

It’s also clear to me that most of our current difficulties in Suffolk (gangs and youth violence in particular) cannot be solved by policing alone. What’s essential is the whole community comes together across all sectors. I have an enduring belief we will be successful because that approach is something Suffolk is rather good at and we all know the saying ‘United we stand - divided we fall’ and we will certainly be doing the former!

It would be great to see as many residents as possible at our upcoming public engagement events either at The Newbury Community Centre, Bury St Edmunds on Thursday, July 12, 6.40 for 7pm with Assistant Chief Constable, Simon Megicks; or ‘On-Tour’ in the Market Square, Haverhill on Friday, August 17, from 11.30am-1.30pm with the Chief Constable, Gareth Wilson.