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Extra officers will boost morale, says Staffordshire police boss

Staffordshire's Chief Constable Chris Noble said he was hopeful an extra 200 officers and changes to the county's local policing model will lift officer morale.

Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Chris Noble with Chief Superintendents Colin Mattinson, Emily McCormick and Elliott Sharrard-Williams

The new strategy rolled out this week sees the force split into two distinct command teams led by chief superintendents for Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent, then 10 area local policing teams each with a dedicated chief inspector, inspector, response constables and PCSOs.

By next spring the force is expected to have closer to 1,950 officers – up from 1,567 in March 2019.

A review of the force's operating model was launched last summer following concerns that it had become outdated in an increasingly digital society, then in a damning report Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said there were “serious concerns” about the force’s call handling and ineffective investigations.

Following more than 100 staff workshops along with meetings with statutory and community partners the force is shifting it key focus on improved responsiveness, local policing, contact and investigation volume.

Chief Constable Chris Noble said: "There's a lot of expectation on policing from the public, understandably as police officers are upholders of the law. What I would say is that staff even when under pressure, have never stopped given the very best.

"When its busy, expect them to be busy, but they're really looking forward to this new model. It will give them clarity about where they work and what they're responsible for.

"We're putting more numbers into response policing so their workloads are manageable and they can actually identify communities and be proud of the service that they deliver. So there are challenges.

"But even over the last couple of weeks I've seen a real welcoming attitude towards these changes. There's ongoing commitments and things that I need to do that will just hopefully see morale then start to improve and increase.

"But that said I've always found that even whenever there's low morale in policing, there's never any lessening in the commitment to try and serve the public and keep them safe."

Under the improvement plan rolled out this week emergency response teams are now based at 10 stations including Stafford, Cannock, Codsall and Lichfield in the shake-up. Teams previously worked out of three stations - Cannock, Burton and Hanley - but they will now operate from the same 10 areas as neighbourhood officers.

"The model means we're going to go back to a much more local model of policing. Previously, we've been operating from three response hubs. Now we feel the time is right in terms of the officer numbers, and what we're hearing from communities and our own staff, to go to town local hubs, local bases, where we'll have both neighbourhood police response police, and then local investigation, all coming together on your one local chief inspector.

"So it's more responsive, it's more visible, and the officers will understand their areas and the challenges much more than they currently do. And there's absolute clarity about who's responsible for what crime in what areas across the county," Mr Noble said.