The West District Command of Norfolk Constabulary applied to the Evidence Based Policing Fund for a project incorporating FastSMS text service to speed up engagement between the police and rural communities. This is specifically targeting those likely to encounter hare coursing, enabling the quick sharing of information between police and community.
Identifying the problem
The rural landscape of Norfolk provides difficulties in engaging with rural communities. In particular, there is poor sharing of information in real time between police and rural communities.
The consequences of poor information sharing are low levels of reporting and poor confidence in the police from the general public. These two consequences are interrelated; as reporting decreases so does the police’s ability to effectively respond, thus public confidence will decrease. As public confidence decreases so does reporting of crime. Therefore, maintaining good information sharing is important to responding to crime, maintaining the good reputation of Norfolk Constabulary and receiving crime reports from the public. The inability to share information quickly with communities means that the communities are not able to respond to police information. This amounts to the underutilisation of the public as an information resource.
Legislation changes - Existing
Hunting Act 2004
Legislation changes - New
A bid for funding of £3,000 was submitted to the Norfolk Constabulary Evidence-Based Problem Solving Fund for a FastSMS text service to be used with a subscriber list of West Norfolk rural workers. This included farmers, gamekeepers and land based industry workers. The purpose is to better engage with the community and to identify criminality by providing live updates to subscribers about crimes and suspects of criminality.
An example application would be notifying local residents about a suspect vehicle in a crime hotspot area. It enables information to be quickly shared, engages the local community and increases the opportunity of identifying an offender.
The service integrated the rural community, with over 50 gamekeepers subscribing and sharing information between themselves and the police.
What didn't work
Initially only a small pool of officers had access to the system and as the demand profile of coursing increased through the season we missed a number of opportunities in sharing quick time information about potential criminality.
The FastSMS service had several outcomes, including:
· The number of operators was expanded so that we maintained seven days a week coverage.
· Our intelligence picture increased.
· The game keeping community felt empowered to react to issues of coursing.
· In some cases the intelligence supported evidential case builds against offenders.
Quick sharing on information allowed police to disrupt criminality.
For such an engagement programme to be effective there is a need to increase the group engagement list.
One capability option could be to implement this in the Force Control Room.