Durham police’s new chief constable has pledged to get more officers on the streets to help respond to concerns about crime. 

Chief Constable Rachel Bacon said she would place a greater emphasis on neighbourhood policing as part of a renewed focus on connecting with communities in County Durham and Darlington. 

She started her role by visiting the beat team in Crook on Friday (November 1), where incidents of anti-social behaviour and vandalism have reduced by over 40 per cent. 

Chief Constable Bacon answered several questions and concerns from readers about policing and crime in the region. 

Why are there less police patrolling the streets?/ We never see proactive policing in our area anymore

“I can’t promise there will be a cop on every street but I do recognise there are certain communities which feel they are underprotected. I know communities want to see more of the police and I am committed to meeting those needs. We will be there when people really need us, working in partnership with other services.

“I’m a huge supporter of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), they have a really important role in engaging with the community, spending their time on foot getting to know people, so I won’t be replacing them because I think they’re really essential. 

“But we are increasing the number of police officers, as they have certain powers. I’ve increased police officers in neighbourhoods by eight and we’ve got 18 additional PCSOs and there will be more going into neighbourhood teams.” 

Will you be engaging with community and youth groups to actively tackle anti-social behaviour?

“We’re working with the local authority and will definitely be talking to them about investing in youth groups and services. We’ve got an important part to play in terms of enforcement and we’ve done a lot of work talking to parents and going into schools. It’s a real partnership effort with communities.”

Why does it take the police so long to respond to incidents? 

Earlier this month, Durham’s Constabulary’s latest inspection by a watchdog told the force it must make it easier for the public to contact police. 

“I know it’s really difficult for people when they can’t get a hold of us, and I am really apologetic about that. From the first point of contact, we’ve increased our staff by 24 and we’re changing our technology so people can report incidents online. 

“We’re always going to have to make decisions about what we need to respond to, whether that be an emergency where someone’s life is at risk or there’s a serious incident. We are never going to be able to go to every incident straight away, but we are improving our response times and assessment.

“If we’re going to protect our neighbourhoods, prevent and detect crime and deal with nuisance behaviour, the public needs to have confidence in us. I am determined that we will improve our call handling times and develop easier ways for the public to contact us.”

The force says the average time it takes to answer a non-emergency 101 call has since halved between March and October.

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