COLUMN: Derbyshire Alert Service is back to protect residents

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Communication lies at the heart of effective policing and is certainly one of my primary focuses as Commissioner.

How police officers interact with the public they serve determines not only how safe we feel and our overall confidence in policing but also enhances the force’s ability to detect crime through intelligence-gathering.

The way people talk to one another today has evolved significantly and there’s a continuing need to develop speedy, instant communications that mirror this change. Social media allows us to reach a large number of people at the click of a button and is something I’m very keen to expand with the creation of a new digital engagement post to work on my behalf and strengthen our community links.

Social media is a very powerful and effective means of raising awareness about crime risks and encouraging vulnerable people, such as victims of hate crime, to come forward to police and will be one of the tools we will utilise as we embark on Hate Crime Awareness Week, which starts on October 8.

Similarly, I’m keeping my promise to reinstate the popular Derbyshire Alert Service from this month which also allows us to deliver instantaneous warnings or advice.

This messaging service was temporarily suspended while funding was sought and I’m delighted to be able to step in and continue financial support for this highly-valued communications and crime prevention tool. The system is currently under development in partnership with Neighbourhood Watch but local and countywide messaging has now restarted.

Derbyshire Alert is part of an ongoing project and so there is scope to consider other methods of communication in the future but there’s no doubt of its value, both in terms of operational policing and crime prevention. In the past, offenders have been arrested moments after committing their crimes while many people have potentially been spared the devastation of becoming a victim of crime.

This is an example of the power of PCCs to champion and support projects that are highly-valued by the public and improve our effectiveness. As facilitators, we can bring all the agencies involved in an issue together and initiate the joint work streams needed to solve these problems.