'Local approach is best' for tackling crime, says senior South Staffordshire cop

Police officers responding to incidents in South Staffordshire will come from within the area instead of from elsewhere in a push to provide a "local approach", leaders have said.

Detective Chief Inspector David Wain. Photo: Staffordshire Police
Detective Chief Inspector David Wain. Photo: Staffordshire Police

Staffordshire Police announced last week the force will split into two distinct command teams led by chief superintendents for Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.

And it has seen 10 Local Policing Teams (LPTs) introduced – including in Stafford, Codsall and Cannock – instead of the usual three bases across the whole county.

It marks a positive step for South Staffordshire due to police now being based in the area, rather than having to travel from Cannock during an incident.

Amongst those reaping the rewards is Detective Chief Inspector David Wain, commander for the area, who is a strong believer in officer de-centralisation.

"I'm passionate about the area I cover and it has had previous significant problems due to the geography – it's got a number of large villages, which almost appear like small towns," he said.

"We're based in Codsall and we have a satellite station in Wombourne. And up until very recently, the operating base was at Cannock and whilst we had a neighbourhood team, we had officers coming from Cannock – down to Kinver, the (River) Stour and Wombourne – which was difficult and difficult for them to have that local knowledge.

"South Staffordshire is really unique, it borders Birmingham and we do have issues around County Lines as well – and we have a rural policing area, where some people can feel isolated and with these sorts of areas you need officers to have a good understanding of the area, so they can target the problem areas and be proactive."

Det Ch Insp Wain said the team so far has carried out some "fantastic operations" which had driven crime down, but they now had an opportunity to combine their efforts at the Codsall base to better tackle the issue.

And one of the ways the top cop is keeping crime down is through the knowledge of the area, with officers knowing where the "arterial routes" area – and where to put the "chess pieces" to stamp it out.

"I'm absolutely wedded to the idea of de-centralisation and I believe the local approach is best. [Having officers together] might work in a municipality area, but if an officer goes into Stone and then the next day they're in Cannock, how can they build up any local knowledge?"

"And people, when they phone the police, they expect an officer to be there straight away and when they call 999 they want an officer there quickly – if you base people a long way away [it's difficult].

"But this [new policing model] can drastically cut our response times and I really think it's fantastic. And in one week we've had two results we wouldn't have had under the old model."

One of the incidents involved three men being arrested after an attempted break-in at Coven Post Office, Brewood Road, whilst another saw a man apprehended for stealing a woman's purse – with officers able to "arrive within minutes" to the crime scene – rather than travelling from Cannock.

And the advantage of local knowledge led to vehicles being checked on the A449 on Wednesday night, with 50 vehicles checked and no crimes reported over that period.

Det Ch Insp said the next challenge for the area would be in rural places like Kinver – some distance from the Codsall base – and to ensure these areas are being fully covered.

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