Sir Graham Bright on Coping with Cuts

pcso_hats17:18 Tuesday 22nd July 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: As many as eighteen police forces, including Cambridgeshire, will not be able to deal with murders, rapes and riots if budget cuts continue. That’s the dire warning contained in a new report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. It also claims that a growing number of officers will be taken off the local beat. So what shape will policing in our county take in the future? I’m joined on the line now by the man who should know. He is Sir Graham Bright, the County’s Police and Crime Commissioner. Hello Sir Graham.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Evening Chris.
CHRIS MANN: This report from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, do you agree with their analysis.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well, some of that is quite historical. It goes back four years, and I think things have moved on quite dramatically since then, because I know ..
CHRIS MANN: Does that make it worse or better?

GRAHAM BRIGHT: No it makes it better. They talk about some of the smaller forces having difficulty. And that’s exactly why we’ve gone into a partnership agreement with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, so that we do have the resources there. I think I’ve often said that when we had the Soham murder, it really virtually stopped Cambridgeshire Police in their tracks. When we had the triple-murder at Peterborough it didn’t, because we were able to draw on Hertfordshire. So that’s the whole idea of doing that. And ..
CHRIS MANN: OK. The downside is they say there’s a noticeable reduction in neighbourhood policing. Is that happening in Cambridgeshire?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: No it isn’t. I’m absolutely adamant about that. We have lost some police, particularly senior officers that weren’t required. We were top heavy. They have gone. And we’ve slipped some of our people into the partnership, but they obviously .. we’ve got them back again. But the localised policing is very different, and we’ve ring-fenced that.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Well you see.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: They’re the bobbies that everyone sees. There’s lots of police that no-one ever sees, because they’re working on special assignments and things.
CHRIS MANN: Of course.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: But the local bobby. He’s the one they see. And that’s about perception.
CHRIS MANN: Perception. I know that you can’t discuss operational things, but just recently there’s been quite a few warnings given out about burglaries, in Peterborough and in Cambridge. And I’ve heard anecdotal stuff from people who’ve suffered from burglary. Is this being tackled? Is this one of your priorities? Or is this an example of how things are going to be?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: No Chris. This has been one of my priorities right from the word go. For instance way back policemen used to turn up after a burglary, sort of two or three days later, and give you a crime number. That doesn’t happen. Every single burglary a policeman has been on site to have a look at it.
CHRIS MANN: But not necessarily SOCO. Not necessarily taking evidence and so on, and looking for clues.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well of course they do. Yes. That’s the idea of calling. Because obviously these burglaries often form a pattern, and it’s by putting that together you can sort of eventually catch the person involved. You only stop burglaries if you catch burglars, and you only catch burglars if you go and have a look to see whether you can identify what they’re about.
CHRIS MANN: Are you absolutely sure that’s happening?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Oh I’m absolutely certain.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Well we’ll get back to you on that one.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: There’s a report coming back to me to show that. And also the other thing is that 95% of people in Cambridgeshire who’ve had a burglary are satisfied with the way in which the police dealt with it.
CHRIS MANN: OK. There’s a suggestion from some people that gaps are being plugged by PCSOs and Special Constables. Is that happening in Cambridgeshire?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: PCSOs are there to assist the police, and indeed so are the Specials. We’re trying to get them to work much closer together, and the Chief Constable is quite adamant on that. We’re making sure they’ve got proper training, so they can work in with the police. But it’s not plugging gaps. What I’m concerned about is keeping police constables on the beat and at local policing level.
CHRIS MANN: In a sense I suppose we can’t expect the police to do both things, to reach up for all the big crimes, and to go down and get all the little crimes, and bear all these cuts. So do we need a bigger larger nationwide force to do the big crimes, and have a local force that’s looking after those smaller more rural more local things?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Well actually, with the big crimes, we’ve got an operation based on the eastern region. So it’s Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire. I’m going to a meeting tomorrow on that. And these guys are really after the big crooks. You don’t actually see too much of them. They’re there, they’re doing it, and they’re actually delivering. And we also have a similar operation with the three counties we work with. So that is there, and it is happening. And as I say that’s the specialised stuff.
CHRIS MANN: Any second thoughts on these cuts. Are they harming our policing? Are they harming the catching of the criminals and the prevention of crime?
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Chris, at the moment I can honestly say no. But obviously you’ve got to watch this. When you get warning signals like this one, I shall be digging deep to just make absolutely certain we are delivering what we should be delivering. I believe we are. And if we’re not, you’ve got my assurance that it’s something I will tackle.
CHRIS MANN: OK. And we’ll talk perhaps another time about burglaries; we’ll follow up on those reports I’ve heard.
CHRIS MANN: Thank you so much for joining us. Sir Graham Bright.
GRAHAM BRIGHT: Yes. Thanks Chris. Bye.
CHRIS MANN: The County’s Police and Crime Commissioner there.