COLUMN: Community hubs are working well

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It’s safe to say policing has endured its fair share of change over the years. Latterly, much of the change has been driven by restrictions in public funds and while these have been critical to protect the frontline, in many cases they’ve done the wonderful job of actually improving services for local people.

Among these positive and successful changes is the introduction of our shared community hubs – facilities based in the heart of our communities which bring police and other public safety services together to tackle problems.

Both Mansfield and Ashfield now have their very own community hubs and they’re working really well. Within these shared bases, police officers work alongside a host of partners from neighbourhood wardens and anti social behaviour case workers through to victim support charities and the fire service. They hold joint meetings and adopt joint strategies for resolving problems all of which improves the speed and effectiveness of the response.

Closing police station front counters is never an easy decision and we recognise the public anxiety accompanying some of the changes that have been made. However, cutting the costs of our buildings has enabled us to retain some of the excellent people we have working for Nottinghamshire Police to prevent crime and respond to it and it is people who ultimately protect the public, not buildings.

Happily, the new shared facilities in places like Mansfield and Ashfield are increasing our accessibility to the public and enabling us to listen to problems as well as take action on them. Public concerns about dangerous off-road motorcycling, antis-ocial behaviour and illegal dog ownership, for instance, have been robustly acted upon with multi-partner intervention. The hubs have also stopped callers from being transferred from one department to the next or between numerous organisations so that a solution can be identified more swiftly.

While it’s natural to fear change, I think it’s important to reiterate once again that our shared working arrangements have been designed to maximise police visibility, accessibility and problem-solving between lots of organisations. Neighbourhood policing officers are still very much out on patrol across the county and are spending even more time in their designated areas thanks to mobile technology enabling them to work on-the- job.

Public safety is a collective effort and it makes sense to unite those at the sharp end of the task. Good teamwork has always been Nottinghamshire’s strength and I’m immensely proud of the ongoing partnership work taking place throughout the county to keep local people safe.