Dorset chief constable pledges to fill gaps in Swanage policing team

An increase in the number of new officers for Dorset Police means Swanage looks set to fill the vacancies in its neighbourhood policing team.

The national Uplift programme has allowed Dorset Police to inject much-needed resources to frontline teams and this is welcome news for Swanage, which has struggled without a dedicated police constable for many years.

New Dorset Police recruits with Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick and chief constable Amanda Pearson

New police constables (centre) recruited as part of the Uplift programme are welcomed by police and crime commissioner David Sidwick (left) and chief constable Amanda Pearson (right)

Dorset Police’s biggest recruitment drive in its history

Now hope is on the horizon with 174 new police officers recruited across Dorset over the last three years, as part of the government-backed programme in England and Wales.

According to Dorset Police, this has been the biggest recruitment drive in its history and is in addition to the normal annual officer recruitment required to replace officers who resign, retire or leave the force.

At a media briefing at Dorset Police headquarters at Winfrith on Monday 15th May 2023, the chief constable Amanda Pearson, while not committing to a timescale, said:

“We want to fill the vacancies in the Purbeck team. The plan, now that we’ve trained additional police constables through the Uplift scheme, is to put them in the response teams, which will release the more experienced officers to start filling vacancies in the neighbourhood teams. We know this is what communities really value, including in Purbeck.”

New Dorset Police recruits

New recruits police constable Jody Durkin-Jones and police constable Beverley Beck. Jody said she joined up because, “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping others in crisis, resolving problems and doing it well and with empathy”.

No Swanage-based police constable with powers to arrest

Over the years, a lack of police resources has led to officers being moved from Purbeck to areas with a higher crime rate, leaving Swanage with police community support officers but no dedicated police constable with the powers to arrest.

Chief constable Amanda Pearson added:

“I do want to say that PCSOs are really important and a constant presence in the community. They do important work gathering local intelligence and tackling anti-social behaviour.

“They are backed up by the police response teams, as well as the dedicated units that tackle specific areas like rural crime and domestic abuse.”

Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick is to attend a public meeting in Swanage on Monday 12th June 2023

“There needs to be a cut in antisocial behaviour”

Also at the media briefing was Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick. He said:

“Last week I came to Swanage to meet with town councillors and representatives of local businesses and there are issues. There needs to be a cut in antisocial behaviour, drugs, domestic abuse, and to fight rural crime – put victims first.

“I have been very clear that it is visibility in our communities that people want to see and it is these additional officers that will ensure that it is achieved. I am expecting to see the vacancies in the Purbeck policing teams to be filled.”

Dorset Police recruitment stats

  • New police officers as part of the Uplift programme 174
  • Total of officers recruited between 2019 and 2023 including the Uplift allocation 552
  • Total of officers in Dorset Police 1,441
  • Increase in officers identifying as white non-British up by 11 from 16 to 27
  • Increase in officers identifying as Black, Asian, or ethnically diverse up by 19 from 20 to 39
  • Increase in female officers from 382 to 472
  • New recruits include former prison officer, mortgage consultant, photographer, manager, account executive, logistics administrator and landscape gardener
STC Annual meeting with Ged Want

Swanage Town Council’s annual meeting met at The Centre in Swanage

Update on policing at Swanage Town Council’s annual meeting

Later that evening at Swanage Town Council’s annual meeting, the police inspector who covers Purbeck, along with much of West Dorset, Ged Want gave an update on local policing matters.

Putting crime in Purbeck in context, he said that for 2022/23 there was a six percent increase in reported crime compared to the previous year, however compared to the last pre-Covid year in 2019, it was less than 2 percent.

In Swanage town there was an 18 percent increase in crime but it was still low, with less than two reported crimes a day – similar to Lyme Regis and Sherborne.

STC Annual meeting with Ged Want

Dorset Police inspector Ged Want tells it as it is

“Not everything is rosy”

Inspector Ged Want said:

“We are in challenging times. Not everything is rosy but we will respond to what we can. We really need people to tell us about crimes. I know that many are disillusioned and don’t report crime as they think nothing will happen but there is a new 101 online reporting form which should make it easier.”

New police constable expected to start in June 2023

While Dorset Police’s chief constable was reluctant to give a date for when posts would be filled in the South Purbeck neighbourhood team, Ged Want told the meeting that a new police constable, based in Swanage, would be starting on Monday 26th June 2023 and would “hit the ground running”.

STC Annual meeting with Ged Want

Members of the public question whether Dorset Police is doing enough

Swanage shop had £5,500 of stock stolen

In response, councillor Caroline Finch, who’s the chair of Swanage Chamber of Trade, asked the inspector whether he thought the police were really doing enough? She said:

“Just two weekends ago, one shop in Swanage had £5,500 of stock stolen. Shopkeepers are getting fed up with not seeing the police in Swanage. They are visually in Bournemouth and Weymouth town centres but not here.

“We are doing what we can and do now have a WhatsApp alert for business owners, so we can let other shops know if there is a shoplifter in town and circulate images.”

Local resident Linda Welsh added:

“Can’t we reinstate the monitoring of CCTV in the evenings? There have been incidents and antisocial behaviour that have happened on areas like Sandpit Field and the Rec, which are covered by CCTV and if it was properly monitored, the police would know what has been going on and not have to wait for locals to report it.”

Public meeting to discuss policing

Linda, along with Harmans Cross resident David Hollister have organised a public meeting to discuss policing in Purbeck, which the Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick will be attending. All are invited to come along to the event at 7pm on Monday 12th June 2023 at Swanage Methodist Church on the High Street.

Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick and chief constable Amanda Pearson

Police and crime commissioner for Dorset David Sidwick (left) and Dorset Police chief constable Amanda Pearson (right)

“All of our communities deserve good policing”

Dorset Police Chief constable Amanda Pearson is a new recruit herself, having moved from the Met Police in London to take up her new role in March 2023. She hasn’t had that long to establish herself but said of the job:

“I love it – it’s a really good force. It’s not broken or in crisis but it does require consistent, stable leadership.

“The question is, what can we do to create a better environment for everyone in Dorset? I’m getting out and about and talking to communities. I haven’t formally visited Swanage, although as a keen rower, I’ve been to Swanage lots of times, but it’s on the list of places to visit in my new role.

“All of our communities deserve good policing. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Can we feel the difference that we’re making?’ That’s the ultimate goal!”

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