Inspector Matt Ward (Credit: Nottinghamshire Police)
Inspector Matt Ward (Credit: Nottinghamshire Police)

Supporting people to break the cycle of addiction-linked offending has been pivotal to reducing crime in Newark and Sherwood.

That’s the belief of the area’s neighbourhood policing inspector after overall offending dropped by 2.4 per cent last year, compared to levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Theft from the person, theft from and of motor vehicles, burglary and robbery have all fallen significantly (between 30 per cent and 52 per cent) in the district when compared to that pre-Covid-19 period and since the introduction of an operation to tackle drug-related crime.

Shoplifting has also followed the same downward trend in recent months.

The Newark and Sherwood neighbourhood policing team have focused on positive engagement as a way of tackling crime, both in the short and long-term.

One aspect of this has seen officers work closely with the probation service to help drug users who have committed crime turn their lives around.

And the area is now starting to see the benefits of this work – by helping keep former offenders on the right path and punishing those who don’t.

District Commander for Newark and Sherwood, Inspector Matt Ward said: “An officer is allocated to maintain regular contact with the individual, so that they receive the right support, including obtaining opiate replacement treatment, registering for housing, seeking mental health support as well as other things.

“Some of the people we’ve worked with who we used to see go out and commit double figure shop thefts a week are now managing to stay out of trouble, which can only be a good thing for the area.

“Of course, some have slipped up and have been brought back before the courts, but we’ve been able to say they’re working with us and are doing well, so they’ve received a community sentence, as opposed to a custodial one.

“This work has also led to some key individuals who didn’t want to work with us being locked up, while also keeping people from offending as much as before, which has definitely been key to reducing crime in the short-term.”

Antisocial behaviour (ASB) has been on the decline in Newark and Sherwood over the last four months, with regular patrols of hot-spot areas playing a part in cracking down on offences.

There has also been a focus by the neighbourhood policing team on reducing crime and ASB in the long-term too, with beat officers visiting primary schools across Newark and Sherwood to speak to children about the impact crime can have.

A key topic discussed is the effect antisocial behaviour offences can have on the community, including wildlife-related offending, with the engagement sessions building on the visits already carried out by the force’s school early intervention officers to secondary schools.

Inspector Ward added: “We had a real push at the start of the year to do more engagement across our primary schools, as the majority of early intervention tends to be in senior schools, so we didn’t want this group of young people to miss out being able to ask us any questions.

“By getting to know these kids you can break down that barrier at an early stage, while having that relationship can also be useful if they do decide to start getting into trouble in a few years’ time.

“In truth, we probably won’t start to see the effects of these visits for three to five years, but will it help in the long-term should any of these kids be involved in criminal activity later down the line?

“Yes, I think it will.

“Some of these young people may unfortunately go on to be involved in low-level crime, so anything we can do to stop them from carrying out antisocial behaviour now will make it less likely they’ll be involved in other crime in the future.

“All this engagement work has definitely been positive, but we may have to give it some time to see some of those positive results really shine through.”

Nottinghamshire Police is focusing on the work carried out by police in the community this week as part of neighbourhood policing week of action, which runs from 23, January to 29, January 2023.