Belfast Telegraph

PSNI chief Baggot's vision for policing

Writing exclusively for the Belfast Telegraph, Chief Constable Matt Baggott explains his vision of 'personal policing' and the ways he plans to deliver it

For weeks now the debate has continued all around us on the issue of devolved policing and justice powers for Northern Ireland.

For the Police Service of Northern Ireland, well, we have been getting on with our job.

The job of working to make our communities safer, working in partnership with people, listening to them and delivering real solutions to help address the issues that matter in our neighbourhoods.

For the past six months, I have had the privilege of leading the PSNI.

Every single day I continue to be impressed with examples of real personal and protective policing - and there are many.

Take Sergeant Gary McMaster in Ballymena, who organised Polish language classes for a number of officers, which they undertook in their own time, to better equip them to deliver a policing service to all residents in their area.

And Constables Colm Carson and Alan McMillan, who worked closely with residents and political representatives in Toome, to successfully obtain an ASBO on an individual causing trouble in the area.

Or Sergeant Brian Caskey, from the neighbourhood policing team at York Road in north Belfast who, together with community partners, formed the Building Bridges Forum to develop positive relationships between young people from the loyalist and nationalist communities of Tiger's Bay and Newington with local police. The forum now provides young people with the opportunity to address issues faced by them and to make a positive contribution to their communities.

And Detective Inspector Sean Fitzpatrick, whose partnership working in Coleraine has played a key role in making areas where students live and socialise in Portstewart and Portrush safer for all by reducing anti-social behaviour and crime. This ongoing work has contributed to a decrease in crime at the Coleraine campus by approximately 75% in the last two years.

If all this work is already going on, what am I bringing to the table?

I have made a commitment to deliver personal, professional and protective policing in Northern Ireland. Through this I want to ensure that real partnerships at local level are commonplace right across our community.

Most importantly, I want them to deliver solutions that work. I want to give my officers the time and space to personally engage with people to deliver answers to local problems.

Already, 373 additional officers are on the frontline. In time they will be joined by more of my colleagues.

By ensuring we have extra resources in local communities, we can better equip our officers to deliver the policing service people want, to spend more time finding out what really matters and what needs to be addressed. We are listening to you.

I recognise that there are things we don't always get right first time, but we have never been more serious about tackling those issues that matter to local communities.

I welcome the passing of the vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly last week. It is a positive move for policing.

But today and tomorrow, as yesterday, we will be getting on with the job right across Northern Ireland. We will protect our communities by working to reduce serious harm, delivering real results - taking drugs off our streets, reducing road deaths, dealing with alcohol-related crime and working with communities to disrupt terrorist activity.

My contract of commitment is with the people of Northern Ireland. I am working with you to shape the future of your Police Service, to deliver a service that you want, by officers that have the time and the space to do so.

This is our journey and together we can ensure we have a Police Service that delivers a personal, professional and protective service to all. I want us to be the finest police service in the world. Maybe a bold statement, but one that I firmly believe we can achieve.

My colleagues are working in your neighbourhood and your community, delivering a policing service that belongs to the community. It is a personal service, delivered by professional officers.

We will hold ourselves accountable for improving the quality of the service you receive from us. In the year ahead we will develop a set of commitments that will, in detail, tell you what you can expect from your police service; improve our call-handling and rigorously challenge bureaucracy that gets in the way of providing an effective and consistent service.

The next step will be to find out how we are performing. And we will do this by introducing a call-back service that asks you, personally, for your feedback on the service you have received.

The future of the new Justice Department is a matter for the politicians. The future of policing in Northern Ireland is a matter for each and every one of us.

Tell us what you want; tell us what matters to you and your community. I am certainly up for the challenge, as are my colleagues.

We have delivered a policing service that is acceptable to all in Northern Ireland, now let us work together to deliver one that works for each and every one of us where it now matters, in our street, in our neighbourhoods, in our communities.

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