Police down to four officers at certain times

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But the Department of Justice and Home Affairs has defended the shift patterns, saying the times when only a handful of officers are on duty coincide with historically low call-out periods. Responding to questions sent to the States press office for department director-general Julian Blazeby and Home Affairs Minister Len Norman, the department confirmed that recruitment is now closed and the force will have 190 officers.

That number is down from 245 officers in 2008 – despite the population growing by 10,000 over the past decade.

‘In 2018, the States of Jersey Police redesigned their service, moving more officers into community policing and adjusting shift patterns to more accurately reflect demand for police services,’ the department said.

‘In addition, it has introduced new mobile technologies to streamline some of the administrative processes involved in policing and to help keep more officers out in the community.

‘Officer numbers and working patterns vary throughout the day and week to ensure officers are deployed as efficiently as possible, while also being able to respond to incidents. For very short windows of time, the numbers of response officers available are between four and six, supported by other colleagues in the Custody Unit and Force Communications Centre 24/7.

‘This is set against historic demand data and is in place only in the very early hours of the mornings when demand for services is very low. The senior management team are assessing the impact of this arrangement.’

A number of States members have raised concerns about low morale and whether cutbacks are compromising public safety including St Helier deputy Mary Le Hegerat.

Deputy Le Hegerat, a former States police officer who rose to the rank of acting chief inspector, said she has yet to see sufficient proof that the slimmed-down policing model can work locally.

‘I would like to see the police structure which we have not seen yet,’ she said. ‘I accept that there are different practices and they are working smarter, but you don’t replace people with a new computer model. We seem to be fitting numbers to the amount of money that we have and not the other way around.’

However, the Justice Department said that police are building more links with the community.

‘The States of Jersey Police are developing new partnerships within the community to try and address the root cause of problems, rather than treating the symptoms,’ the response says. ‘In some cases, these initiatives are still being implemented and will be monitored closely over the coming months.’

According to Jersey’s most recent crime statistics, numbers have risen in six out of nine offending categories between the first and second quarter of the year.

Deputy Le Hegerat said that this was worrying.

‘All of us are a little bit concerned that they have suddenly gone down [to 190 officers] and everyone is saying: “It’s all fine”,’ she said. ‘But actually we don’t know it is fine because no-one is providing us with the evidence to say it is fine. I have also heard crime is up. Why is it up?’

The department admitted crime was up ‘slightly’, but said: ‘Jersey remains a very safe place to live, work and visit, with significantly lower crime than in the UK. Demand for policing has also risen slightly this year and this helps support our focus on greater partnership working, particularly in areas such as support for those in mental health crisis.’

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