Rotherham police report “chock full” of progress in the town since command shake-up

Rotherham’s new police chief has filed a progress report highlight a catalogue of improvements over the last few months, earning praise from Chief Constable Stephen Watson who described it as “chock full of positive stuff”.

Stephen Watson, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, says the force wants to hear from anyone who thinks they have what it takes to become a police officer (pic: Chris Etchells)

That includes improvements in getting front line police to respond more quickly when residents demand assistance, tackling problems with both household and commercial burglaries and working more effectively with other partnership organisations in the public sector to find long-term ‘problem solving’ solutions to the issues which would otherwise repeated sap police resources.

The report was presented to South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, at his Public Accountability Board, where he holds the force to account.

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It was compiled by Chief Supt Una Jennings, who took command on the district earlier this year and has been working with her command team to improve performance.

Mr Watson said the report was an in depth account of progress, rather than a brief resume highlighting only positives and told the meeting: “When you have a 30 page report chock full of good news it proves we have a really committed leadership team.

“It is not the style of this organisation to sit around whinging, but to get on with what we have got,” he said.

Improvements have included raising the arrest rate, he said, while numbers of wanted suspects had been reduced.

“Care for the vulnerable is up, organised crime gangs dismantled,” he said.

Sickness rates within the force in Rotherham had been reduced to such an extent that it was the equivalent of having five per cent more officers available, while demand from the public was down by 12 per cent.

Details in the report showed the “vim, vigour and professionalism” the force had in working with partners and performance would be improved as more officers were recruited. “Add more people to it and we will be working even harder,” he said.

A new ‘demand management’ system was introduced in July to try to ensure officers were available more quickly when residents needed their help.

The changes mean an average wait for getting an officer despatched to an emergency incident has fallen from eight minutes 33 seconds to six minutes 12 seconds.

The reduction for less serious ‘priority incidents’ is greater in percentage terms, falling from almost 26 minutes on average to just over 14 minutes.