The Chief Constable has described the launch of a new Public Engagement Vision and set of neighbourhood policing pledges as a “significant new milestone” in the journey of policing in Northern Ireland.

Simon Byrne made the remarks ahead of an event in Newtownabbey with members of the local community, partner organisations and elected representatives where he officially launched  ‘Here for you’ – the Police Service’s Public Engagement Vision, and eight new hallmarks of neighbourhood policing.

The Chief Constable said the announcements were a sign of how far policing had come in terms of making the aspiration of neighbourhood policing a reality for local communities across all of Northern Ireland.

Speaking about the announcements, the Chief Constable said:

“We know there is a real appetite for Neighbourhood Policing and it is now a reality and central to everything we do. The launch of this Public Engagement Vision, and the eight Neighbourhood Policing Hallmarks that underpin it, is a significant further milestone on our policing journey, marking not just how far we’ve come but also providing a blueprint for continuous improvement to the service we provide to the public.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years in reducing crime and keeping people safe. Northern Ireland is now one of the safest places in the UK with some of the highest levels of trust and confidence in policing because of what the Police Service has achieved working together with local communities at a neighbourhood level.

“However, whilst we’ve achieved a lot, including taking record amounts of drugs off our streets, we know there is more to do. By investing in neighbourhood policing and engagement, alongside modernising our service, Police can more deeply embed the prevention and early intervention approaches that will be key to meeting the challenges of the future.”

The Engagement Strategy sets out five key pillars to define the Police Service’s approach for policing with the community: Attraction and Recruitment; Engagement; Procedural Fairness; Effective Neighbourhood Policing; and, Local Accountability. 

Underpinning the Effective Neighbourhood Policing pillar within the Public Engagement Vision are the eight hallmarks of neighbourhood policing: Embedding the right culture; Engaging neighbourhoods, Building analytical capability; Solving problems; Targeting Activity; Accountability; Developing officers and staff; and, Developing and sharing learning.

The purpose of the hallmarks is to set a framework for a set of consistent, high-quality standards that local communities can expect of their Police Service with flexibility to develop an approach based on local needs and aspirations.

Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing and organisational engagement lead, Bobby Singleton said:

“Over the last number of years, we’ve been working closely with and listening to our local communities, partner organisations, elected representatives, Police and Community Safety Partnerships and the Northern Ireland Policing Board to understand what they want from their local police service.  What they have consistently told us is that they need a police service that is visible in their communities, accessible, responsive when called upon, and is community-focused.

“Community safety is only possible through a partnership between police and our communities. Whether it’s by providing better real-time data to problem-solve, improving local accountability, or embedding the right culture, our Public Engagement Vision sets out how we will ensure local communities feel a sense of ownership, trust and confidence in how we work together to keep people safe at a local level.”

“Effective Neighbourhood Policing is a vital pillar of our Public Engagement Vision, which is why we’ve also launched our Hallmarks of Neighbourhood Policing which provides a framework for consistently high-quality standards that local communities can expect from their local Police. Wherever you live, the Hallmarks of Neighbourhood Policing will empower local communities to co-develop and co-deliver a neighbourhood policing approach that works for them.”

Voicing support, Policing Board Chair Doug Garrett said:

“The Board fully supports the need for continued investment in local neighbourhood policing teams, and the importance of listening to and engaging with the community in improving service delivery.

“We know through our work, and that of the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships, that communities want a service that is visible, engaged locally and is responsive to community issues and concerns.  Policing in partnership with local communities and delivering local solutions to problems is central to maintaining and building confidence in the service. These hallmarks reinforce the commitment of the police to continue to improve the service delivered locally.”