When I speak to residents across the county about policing there is one thing that I know I’m going to hear without fail. People want to see more uniformed presence on their streets; as simple as that.
It doesn’t matter if I travel to the safest district in the whole of England, and yes, that is in Lincolnshire, I still hear the same thing, “We don’t see enough bobbies on the beat.”
There is an interesting set of issues to unpack in this and, please bear in mind, I am a resident first with a family who live in Lincolnshire and of course I want them and everyone else to feel safe and be safe.
This being said, my first thought is surely the questions should revolve around what is being done to prevent crime, tackle crime, protect people from crime, help victims of crime etc, rather than focusing on the specific point of whether you’ve personally seen a uniform lately.
This becomes even more the case when you throw into the mix the fact that residents are busy people who often work in the day and sleep at night so the chance of looking out of your window at the exact moment to see that uniform is pretty low anyway.
To be clear, there should be, and quite rightly is, a commitment to neighbourhood policing and I’m certainly not advocating the removal of the local policing of our communities; far from it.
There are however a vast number of ways that the police and other agencies need to work together to achieve the goal of keeping us all safe, which ultimately should be their aim and patrolling our streets is but one of them.
In addition to this there is an ever growing list of ways that those wishing to harm or take from our communities and our families go about their business and the police must rise to the challenge of this changing threat.
There are so many new and emerging crime types and dangers to be tackled, all of which take up officer time and money from the budget and none of which can be left without resource.
We face huge and growing issues around very uncomfortable subjects that affect so many people and destroy lives if left to fester.
Areas such as hate crime, elder abuse, modern slavery and tackling the growing demand around mental health related issues too, all need addressing by people you largely just won’t see on your street.
Believe me when I say though, that the people dealing with these issues and more are just as proud to serve you and to keep you safe from harm.
Probably the most challenging area that totally flies in the face of the idea of local policing is the area of online crime.
Whether it’s trying to take money by fraud, tricking young people into behaviour that leads to blackmail, or grooming our children for some of the vilest crimes imaginable, this world is as real as the one outside your window.
Can any of us truly know what a 12-year-old is doing online in their bedroom, who they are actually talking to – not just who they think they are talking to?
I strongly believe that the ultimate in neighbourhood policing has to be reaching into your home to protect your children from harm; often a harm neither you nor they can see; a harm that is so dangerous that its full extent is still being understood.
To face down this evil and many more besides, it takes dedicated, hardworking people to do their job often away from our streets.
In the land of hard choices we still want it all, but the trick is how much of one do we give up to fight the other?