The Crime Matters column with Police and Crime commissioner Julia Mulligan

Cyber crime and fraud are just two of the issues.
Cyber crime and fraud are just two of the issues.

More than 2,000 of you had your say, so thank you for taking the time to tell me your views. And fundamentally important they were too.

In drawing up North Yorkshire’s new police and crime plan, I was very clear from the beginning that the concerns of the public would be front and centre.

Yes, there are specialist things the police will always have to do that the public may not know much about, but the views of residents and businesses were always going to be at the heart of this plan.

And helpfully, the feedback from the public was very clear indeed.

The issues which concern you most are those issues which affect you, your friends and your family on a day-to-day basis.

Given that, burglary, anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol issues and road safety were consistently raised as your top concerns.

The Harrogate region was absolutely in line with the wider North Yorkshire feedback, aside from being more concerned than average about burglary (possibly due to cross border crime issues) and being less than most about police visibility, which seems to be a vote of confidence in your local policing team.

It was also clear you are getting more and more concerned about more modern crimes. Of all the policing issues which you felt had changed most in the last five years, fraud, protecting young people from abuse and ensuring we support anyone in mental health crisis were now top of the list.

That, in a nutshell, is the chief conundrum of modern day policing.

How do we continue to address the public’s understandable concerns about ‘traditional’ crimes when we have a tsunami of fraud and cyber crime happening in the heart of our homes via laptops, tablets and smartphones, and incredibly complex webs of physical and online abuse?

No easy feat, but more on that later.

The two wider issues the public were very clear about was that customer service is increasingly important to you, and that at the very least, what you want is a good, local police force. As a result, both feature very heavily in the new plan.

However, the ‘local’ part of the ‘good, local service’ presents the second conundrum. A large part of policing now is about the support each force gives to national priorities.

The dreadful events in Westminster remind us how important it is for those national issues, like counter terrorism, to be addressed consistently and comprehensively. The downside is the challenge that presents in continuing to provide a local police service which continues to prioritise those issues that most effect local people.

Counter terrorism not being one.

Given all that, we have a very clear view of wider public opinion in North Yorkshire.

We then assessed that against police information, and the feedback from officers and staff at North Yorkshire Police, as well as all the partners we work with like Harrogate Borough Council. And what was the result?

Well, we have priorities that address both the concerns of the public, and that try to unpick the two conundrums I described earlier. They are, Caring about the Vulnerable, Ambitious Collaboration, Reinforcing Local Policing and Enhancing the Customer Experience. Why those four?

Together they address your principal feedback: a service which focuses on working hard locally to address traditional crimes like burglary, but embracing technology to combat modern crime, an understanding that the police cannot resolve these issues alone, hence collaborating with others, improving how we interact with the public instead of just focusing on what the police do, and finally, making sure the vulnerable people in our community get our protection.

Focusing on these priorities steers North Yorkshire Police into the 21st Century, enabling the public to get the best from a police force which puts them first and encourages a culture of can-do, honesty and doing what is right.

Thank you again for taking the time to give me your feedback.

Without it this plan would not be what it is, a blueprint for policing in North Yorkshire for the next four years.