Dereham's police working to win over public

PUBLISHED: 11:54 20 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:30 07 July 2010

Dereham's top policeman has said the town's officers have a "long way to go" before they get the confidence of people living in the town and surrounding areas.

Dereham's top policeman has said the town's officers have a “long way to go” before they get the confidence of people living in the town and surrounding areas.

Inspector Paul Wheatley, who joined Dereham's policing team in March this year, was speaking at a full meeting of Dereham Town Council last week.

Speaking about how a new system of policing in the town had been working he said there had been teething problems, due to initially being under resourced, and that work needed to be done to get people's confidence back.

But problems with youths in Toftwood earlier this year had been dealt with through “robust action” and a spate of burglaries had been curbed after the arrest and prosecution of a key suspect.

Police in uniform and plain clothes were now concentrating on reducing shoplifting in the town centre in the run-up to Christmas and there had already been prosecutions, he said.

His comments come not long after Norfolk Police decided to cut the hours at the town's police inquiry office in Commercial Road.

Responding to criticism over the cuts by councillor Steve May, Insp Wheatley said it was based on a survey of footfall and that it would be reviewed in January.

“With any public sector organisation, when it comes to the recession, they are going to have to tighten their strings,” he said.

“But there will always be a PC in the town and I want them out on the streets walking about.

“The public can still pick up that phone and a PC will be available.”

He also said that response police were now based at Fakenham and not Dereham did not mean police would not come to Dereham.

“They will book on at Fakenham and come over here,” he said. “They will have variable shifts so more officers will be on at key times when crime happens.”

He said the town's Kickz project, a youth project with Norwich City Football Club's Football in the Community scheme, still had “some way to go” when it came to police getting the confidence of youngsters, as had general interaction with young people in the town.

“We still have a long way to go with confidence and satisfaction especially in the rural communities,” he said.

He said overall crime was up two per cent compared to last year - which amounted to 19 additional offences.

Insp Wheatley said the town's safer neighbourhood policing team was now up to strength, with three sergeants, eight PCs and six PCSOs.

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