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Suffolk Police's new model shows more PCs for Haverhill but fewer PCSOs

On the dame day that Suffolk Constabulary confirmed how many officers will be serving Haverhill under the county’s new policing model, its Chief Constable has announced that he is to retire.

Gareth Wilson will retire next April after four years at the head of the force, bringing to an end a 30-year career in the police.

The county’s new policing model, meanwhile, had been approved in mid-September after a period of consultation, but exactly how many constables, sergeants and police community support officers (PCSO) would be placed in each division was only confirmed this week following the model’s implementation.

Haverhill is a joint division with Sudbury, and it will have 14 PCs, rising from six, two sergeants and three PCSOs- it formerly had six.

The restructure sees more than 100 police officers move into Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs).

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said: “These changes demonstrate that we have, and will continue to listen to the public who we serve and who want as many officers on the frontline as possible.

“Moving more than 100 officers will allow us to be more effective in meeting the challenges we are facing.

“We have had to make some difficult decisions about the composition of our future workforce and the blend of skills and abilities we will require.

“However, we acknowledge the value and important contribution of PCSOs and we are still committed to them continuing to play a key role within our communities.

"I’d like to pay tribute to the hard work of all our PCSOs, especially those that have left the force. I’m extremely proud of the outstanding contribution they have made.

“Our goal was to keep redundancies to as few as possible and ensure our staff were re-deployed wherever possible.

"A vast majority of the PCSOs who were put at risk have been retained within the organisation where their skills and experience will continue to be used.

“It is also important to acknowledge these changes to improve our policing model will be closely monitored and evaluated over the coming 12 months to ensure they are effective.

“It is incumbent on us that we continue to adapt, and we will always be looking to improve our services whilst at the same time being financially sustainable.”

Gareth Wilson and Tim Passmore. (5123391)
Gareth Wilson and Tim Passmore. (5123391)

The new model, implemented on Monday will enable local policing to continue to be as flexible, effective and efficient as possible for all our communities.

The changes will mean more than 150 Police Constables and 28 Sergeants will work in SNT’s across Suffolk.

However to achieve this, the number of Police Community Support officers (PCSOs) has been reduced from the 81 full-time equivalent (FTE) PCSOs in July to 48 FTE PCSOs.

A total of 30 PCSOs will work within the SNTs, while the constabulary is looking to achieve 18 partner-funded posts across the county. At present the number stands at 16 which are subject to two-year service level agreement.

Further changes see the introduction of Community Engagement Officers and a new Serious Crime Disruption Team has been created to tackle crime trends.

Three Neighbourhood & Partnerships Teams (NPT) have been created and are responsible for the management of specific areas of policing such as Rural Crime, Licensing and Retail/Business Crime, ensuring that these are tackled and developed in a joined up way.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Tim Passmore said: "The message that comes through loud and clear when I speak to local communities is they want much greater visibility and I’m pleased to say we have listened.

"From today we will see an extra 104 police officers moving into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which is great news. In order to do this some police roles have been civilianised, officers have been moved from central to local teams and regrettably the number of PCSOs will now reduce, but the outcome will be more police officers in local policing.

Mr Passmore added: "I’d like to wish all these officers the best of luck in their new roles and hope the public appreciates that, without any extra funding from central government, the Chief Constable is making the most of the resources he has to provide an efficient and effective police service to the people of Suffolk.”

Speaking of his decision to retire, Mr Wilson said: "I feel honoured and privileged to be Suffolk’s Chief Constable, but after three decades in policing I believe the time is right for me to seek a new challenge.

"I am extremely proud of the officers and staff under my command who day-in and day-out work tremendously hard, often in very difficult situations.

"Much of the work they do is unsung, but the dedication they show to their communities and the difference they make to people’s lives cannot be understated.

"During my tenure there have been many challenges, both in terms of the financial landscape and speed with which the nature of crime is changing.

"However, Suffolk Constabulary has responded to every challenge and I know it will continue to do so in the future.

"I have also enjoyed working with Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, including at meetings we have had with the communities of Suffolk to hear where we are doing well and what we can improve on.”

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Gareth has been a strong, effective and inspiring leader of Suffolk Constabulary and has led his officers through some challenging times since becoming Chief. I would like to thank him for his unstinting support particularly in helping me to keep the force control room in Suffolk and in the delivery of the new local policing model.

"During his tenure, the Constabulary has been consistently graded as ‘Good’ by the HMIC which is a huge credit to Gareth and of which we are justifiably proud, considering the difficult financial constraints placed upon the Constabulary, and I thank him for this.

"I have a very productive working relationship with Gareth which has developed since he joined Suffolk as Deputy Chief Constable in 2014 . That strong working relationship has played its part in us successfully maintaining Suffolk’s reputation as a safe place to live, work, travel and invest.

"I look forward to continuing to work with Gareth until he retires in April.”

Mr Wilson joined Suffolk Constabulary in July 2014 as Deputy Chief Constable. He was appointed Chief Constable in January 2016 after an 11-month term as temporary chief.

Mr Wilson moved to Suffolk from Norfolk Constabulary in 2012.

He had previously served with Essex Police which he joined in 1989. During his time in Essex Mr Wilson spent his 23 years in CID and uniformed roles, including a significant period of time as a Senior Investigating Officer. When he left Essex Mr Wilson was Detective Chief Superintendent for the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. In his role as Chief Constable Mr Wilson chairs the National Police Chief’s Council Committee on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, and is also the national lead for Investigations.

Regionally, Mr Wilson is also the lead Chief Constable for the seven force collaboration programme and the lead for Disaster Victim Identification.