Web chat - Interim CC Steven Watson

Below are questions asked on the night of the web chat with Interim Chief Constable, Steven Watson. These were not answered on the night because of time restraints. These have now been answered by Interim CC Steve Watson. 

1. Comment from anonymous 

When will you provide the police officers with the resources they need to do the job properly, they have not got Enough manpower which is why the neighborhood yobs are running riot,

2. Comment from anonymous

When are our bobbies going to get the manpower and resources they need to be able to do their job properly?

3. Comment from Tony

When are our police going to get enough manpower and resources to take back control of our streets.they have not got enough dog units and a lot of offices are drafted into answering emergency calls in alas court .they need more help and support from their superiors as they are stretched to far out at moment

It is no secret that over recent years Police forces throughout the country have experienced substantial cuts to their budgets. Within South Yorkshire Police, we have reduced our police officer numbers from around 3300 to 2400. Clearly, this creates some very real challenges for us and we need to ensure that our structures are fit for purpose and that we are using these precious resources in the right areas to ensure we provide appropriate policing services across the county. I do not feel we have those structures quite right at the moment and this is something we are looking at closely. Believe it or not, we actually have more response officers than some forces that are busier than us. The result of this is that we are chasing our tails with demand, in ever-decreasing circles, and we really need to get back into our communities and tackle some of the issues at source, that lead to this demand. I passionately believe that an effective neighbourhood model is vital in this regard and I am committed to implementing this as soon as possible. Only then in my view, will we begin to configure ourselves in a way that ensures we maximise the resources that we have.

4. Comment from Dave

As a former officer with SYP, what are you going to do to enhance moral within this failing organisation?

It is very important to me that everyone employed by South Yorkshire Police feels proud of the organisation they work for and even more importantly that the public feel that sense of pride in us. It is very easy to talk about raising morale but in reality people have to feel it, and there is no quick solution. I have talked a number of times since arriving here about the importance of getting the force back to winning ways. There are some things that need fixing here but on the whole I am extremely impressed with the professionalism and dedication I have seen from the officers and staff across the organisation. We have, of course, had a very difficult period to endure in a number of ways but I have not detected that anyone is ready to throw in the towel. If anything, there is a palpable energy in the organisation indicating to me, a group of people anxious to move forward to better times. I am confident that while it may be a long road, we are taking our first steps on it and the further we go; the pride and the morale will follow.

From a practical perspective, to monitor this we will shortly be embarking on a much more sophisticated staff survey that is designed and run by Durham University. This will ensure we are better able to identify the issues that are important to our staff and act accordingly.  

5. Comment from Dave

Wouldn't it be wise for SYP officers, whatever their length of service, to remain less vocal on social media eg matters relating to BREXIT?.

Social media is a challenge in a number of ways. Our officers are all human beings; all have lives outside the organisation and will have their own views on a number of issues. However, it is important that they understand the nature of the job they are employed to do (including the restrictions that sometimes go with that) and that they are not naïve in the way they make comments or the way they portray themselves in the public eye. Often the challenge is in ensuring that we understand that social media (depending on the platform and how privacy setting work on that platform) is not always a conversation just among friends / family and may be viewed by the wider public. We give guidance to staff and where activity or behaviour is deemed to be inappropriate, it will be dealt with. 

6. Comment from Jamie

In reference to.... The hate crime campaign last week and corresponding web chat (of which very few questions pitched was of any correlation. I'd like to ask, how can you ensure freedom of speech is not threatened.... I refer you to the trial but Nottinghamshire police force in relation to petty and somewhat trivial matters (i.e wolf whistling) and how such ridiculous matters are being categorised as hate crime and misogyny?

Freedom of speech is important but often there is a balance to be struck where someone’s free speech crosses over into activity that adversely affects others. We face this conflict in a number of areas of policing, not least in recent times in Rotherham, which has seen over a dozen protest events, against the wishes of many within the local community. As the police, we must operate even-handedly within the legislative framework. These are often difficult judgements to get right but ultimately we are committed to upholding both freedom of speech and the individual rights of citizens.