Rural communities, which are the majority in Norfolk, can feel disengaged with local police. Norfolk Constabulary hosted a Barnstorming Event so that local police, the PCC and residents could interact and discuss issues important to them. The event was advertised locally and had a good turnout.
Identifying the problem
As shown in the National Rural Crime Network’s survey, rural communities can have a low opinion of the effectiveness of the police. It is important to understand what is important to our unique rural communities and respond to these concerns so that their opinion of the police can be improved.
If rural communities have a low opinion of the police’s effectiveness, then this may result in decreased reporting, the police not understanding the issues that rural communities face and police not being given the opportunity to show its effectiveness. By engaging with the community that they serve the police are able to understand what service is needed.
Legislation changes - Existing
Legislation changes - New
Through the Community Rural Advisory Group a series of community engagement events were planned to engage with the different rural residents of Norfolk. Events have been planned to tour the Norfolk districts, take place in accessible locations, and engage the local community. The first event was held in Snettisham, a village in rural North Western Norfolk. The event was advertised locally and achieved a turnout of over 50 local residents.
The event began with around 15 minutes of speeches from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Community Safety Superintendent and other key stakeholders in rural crime response which outlined current responses. The floor was then opened to attendees to ask questions and discuss their experience of rural crime and the police. This feedback was then used to respond locally to the issues brought by the public and to inform the work of the Community Rural Action Group.
There was very good engagement from the community. The community engagement section of the event was intended to last for up to an hour. However, the attendees had a lot of feedback to provide, eventually ending after 2 hours.
What didn't work
The event ran smoothly from start to finish.
The local engagement officers were able to talk about their role and invite local residents to contact them about any issues they face or concerns they have. Additionally, the police were able to reassure the public on concerns and highlight that reporting crime is really important so that the police can best protect the community. Finally, the police were able to respond to local issues that they were not aware of, like helping to tackle speeding through villages.
Often, when talking about rural communities, the diversity of this group is not acknowledged. Each rural community is distinct and by engaging on a local basis the unique facets of communities and issues faced can be identified and explored.