With crimes committed day by day, the misdemeanours that escape the law are finally surfacing; a new operation challenging traditional policing methods is now being rolled out across the county. I went to meet Inspector Marcus Oldroyd to discuss the issue and what’s in store for Nottinghamshire’s future.
In the modern day, it seems that social media and moving with the times is something so normal and natural in how we carry out our daily tasks and even our lives, but as simple as it may seem, why does it have to take a new operation in the police force to realise that being ‘traditional’ isn’t the way forward?
Police teams have come and gone in Bestwood Estate, instilling the same reactionary methods attempting to stop and prevent crimes; and although this has been done with some undoubted success, the underlying crimes would never have been found if it wasn’t for Operation Reacher.
The operation was initially pursued as short-term, lasting for 6 months to tackle the gang culture and organised crime in the area, but it is now being rolled out across Nottinghamshire county due to its success.
But with 350 single drugs seizures, recovering £300,000 of criminal cash and with over 200 interviews and arrests since it was established just before 2018, the potential of these crimes not being found or even known about is a key issue with how police have been operating in the past.
Perhaps maybe the police haven’t been doing their job as efficiently, failing on what they’re expected to do, but according to Inspector Marcus Oldroyd the realisation is a “revolutionary.”
If police methods “stayed the same,” and “traditional,” there could have been even more cases that could have escaped the law:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’re always going to get what you’ve always got,”
“Modern day policing really needs to be modern day policing; we need to move with the times, look at what communities really need and think outside the box and not just continue to do the same thing.”
With 22 years of force experience in a detective background and since being placed as a leader and coordinator of the operation, he said that there was a lot of realisation regarding the long-established policing methods that were not working in Bestwood.
“There have been a handful of incidents that caused us some concern, and when we analysed what was going on it all came back to an organised crime group in which we were determined to put a lid on it and deal with it.”
“Before Reacher came, there were reduced resources and may have been one or two stops in the area in that week which resulted in a seizure.”
Insp. Oldroyd said police would use the “normal response model” with the 4P strategy – pursue, prevent, protect, prepare – which focuses around organised crime.
But under those pillars, Insp. Oldroyd said that there are different elements of activity for each different area and the main concern which hasn’t helped Bestwood was down to engagement with the community, which really has made the strategy come under scrutiny.
“Mass improvement is proper sound community engagement…preparing communities to build community resilience and then we can have an effect and influence.”
“If we really want to make a difference especially relating to Nottinghamshire Police’s vision about working with partners and the community to make Nottinghamshire safe, if we truly look at the priority of delivering a service that works for the community then we will be more successful that we’ve ever been.”
The acceptance of an under acknowledged issue from Reacher has revolutionised the way police in Bestwood have been finding information and preventing crime.
Insp. Oldryod said in a bid to connect more, they found new modern ways to engage; using social media as a tool.
They linked in with Facebook community groups to really understand the local issues with the aim to pursuit crimes faster and more effectively.
Stolen motorbikes were a massive problem in the area and calls coming into the control would have been a low priority due to their grading system, but Insp. Oldroyd said that even though the issue seems so small, for people they were passionate and very upset, “it’s their baby almost,” and the police needed to understand more.
By connecting with the Notts Anti-social Motorbike Theft Group on Facebook, they have managed to seize over 550 vehicles related to the issue.
“For me, engagement is every police officer’s responsibility, it should be the core of our work and we need to normalise the police in the public, make us approachable and get people to rely and trust us, we are listening.”
On Facebook, Bestwood’s police now have a 1/6th social media footprint and their page has grown over 300%.
Moving 18 months forward, there are messages of encouragement as a result of communicating stories to the community, starting campaigns and competitions, working with the council and its local partners to set up events and go to local ones, and have now created an Instagram account and programmes for children in schools to engage and guide kids to a path other than crime to boost the engagement in younger years,
Insp. said that the youth is an “untapped resource” and there is a massive population of youths in the area, so Reacher is rolling out programmes like the mini police in April in schools to help.
But I was thinking whether this something that can be done in other areas of the county.
Would there be an issue in maintain the quality, ethos and principles of Reacher in the 12 teams they want to embed into the service?
The biggest challenge that Insp. Oldroyd said was just that.
“Landing the teams and secondly enable them to understand the Reacher principles and not just going back to that same way in which police in the past have been and not doing anything else to provide that counter-narrative home office 4P strategy.”
The heart of the whole operation would be jeopardised, but the Inspector said that cannot happen.
“It’s really important for the teams to understand, that they do link in with their sergeant, that they do understand their key partners, that they do gout to business and that they do go out to community.”
“It’s about building trust and by doing so they feel comfortable, safer and they have a police unit they can rely on, that is the Reacher brand.”
Insp. Oldroyd said as one of his objectives this year was to have working processes to scrutinise the team’s performance at an enforcement level and community engagement level.
A bid has been made to the Police Crime Commissioner for funding to help support the strategy and give the teams the funding to get creative and use their initiative to build that relationship.
“We will always pursue arrest and lock people up, but we have to move on with the times and particularly the digital age, look how communities are changing and observe the perception of the police in general, working within that to build a better relationship with people on the street and the police service.”
Although this is a late realisation, it is one, nonetheless. Maybe now, Nottinghamshire’s police will be more than just an authoritative figure and crime catcher, but something we can truly rely on.